What’s missing from modern journalism? Not opinions but voices!

There’s a lovely piece in today’s Observer on the “parent of democracy” that is good traditional journalism.  I spoke a little about a “post truth” journalism yesterday – where old school reporters are simply unable to do more than report “he said, she said” lies.

But the Observer‘s article is far richer than mine: far more beautiful; far more encompassing; far more engaging.  Well worth your time.


And it occurred to me, on reading it, that what’s missing in modern journalism is not opinions – of which there are plenty – but voices.  This from the Observer, for example, explains the background:

[…] The crisis in journalism has crept over us now like a mysterious Old Testament fog: we used to have rules and commandments – We Shall Not Lie, We Shall Not Sell Out, We Shall Not Simplify, We Shall Not Corrupt – but the pressure on newspaper profitability appeared to make the industry sick.


The papers held people to account. They held ministers to account and policemen and companies. They caught thieves, they cornered criminals, long before they were considered thieves and criminals themselves. And, since then, we’ve seen a situation grow where those papers, and many others, were no longer speaking truth to power.

And this, in a way, a possible way forward:

[…] Make journalists themselves speak as opposed to us creating a fictional newspaper story. […]

That is to say, not more opinion – but, rather, a better way of getting journalists’ voices, and perhaps by extension the public’s too, out to the rest of us souls who currently spectate aghast.

Now the Observer‘s article actually focusses on the challenges of pulling together a play on the subject of journalism’s rise and dramatic fall, but the lessons and conclusions the play’s architects have arrived at, if my reading of the situation is correct, lie precisely in that process of allowing intelligent and highly-trained people the space to express not their fiercely opinionated toeing of party lines (and by “party lines” I mean corporate as well as political) but, instead, their personal analysis and understanding of a life quite outside political and commercial allegiances.

By allowing those most knowledgeable about such corrupting influences to speak from the heart instead of the pocket, from their own most private voices instead of their borrowed and acquired public positions, the darkness that has fallen over one of the pillars of our democracy may ultimately be cast aside.

And if a pillar of democracy can begin to come out of the shadows, perhaps democracy itself may one day recover its health.


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