Saturday, April 01, 2006

Stop hiding your opinions

If a journalist holds shares in a company he writes about, you assume ethics would compel him to disclose that fact, no matter how "objective" he claims to be. But if a journalist holds opinions about a matter of politics, why don't we ask that the same rule apply? If virtually all mainstream reporters voted against George W. Bush, how can they pretend that doesn't affect their coverage of his policies? (I would add, "or vice versa", but come on...)

The Twilight of Objectivity By Michael Kinsley argues that journalism ought to get rid of its pretense of objectivity. I've said this for a long time. I enjoy reading the Economist for its honesty; wouldn't the New York Times be better off if it were the same?

Mark Liberman counters that Kinsley's take is a slur against linguistics, but why? Isn't the study of pragmatics, Grice's Maxims, or for that matter anything by George Lakoff, just proof that words are almost never a pure unopinionated representation of objective reality?

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