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Don’t Like Journalism, Then Go Into Mirror Business

I started to write this as a response to a comment to RealityChecker who thought engaging the audiences, as I suggested in my open letter to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was not necessarily a good idea. We’ll start with this quote of his and go from there:

Should “we” turn everything over to the preferences of the majority? Hello, Us magazine, goodbye, Pulitzer-seeking agents of social uplift and correction?

For me those two sentences, and anyone who believes them, demonstrate journalists’ distain for their audiences. If you think they are so stupid, why write for them in the first place. As someone who was in the thick of the public journalism movement, I heard that argument time and again and pointed it out time and again. As in this instance:

Here is Philadelphia Daily News editorial page editor Richard Aregood’s 1994 comments on letting citizens help set agendas. “What in God’s name are we thinking about?

“We are abandoning a piece of our own jobs if what we are doing is asking people what we should do. Are we to draw up panels of our readers and ask them what they want and put them in the newspaper? We may as well go into the mirror business.”

I have written extensively on this topic and you can search out my articles on Reinventing Journalism to Is Public Journalism Morphing into the Public’s Journalism?

However, here is a simpler test. Would the Internet be a better place if only professionals in all fields were allowed to write for it and be its gatekeepers, or is better now with a cacophony of voices, amateur, professional, nutty and sane, all contributing? Which is smarter? You can pick the former, but I want only the latter. I also want journalists to tap into that creative energy, as is beginning to do, and if they don’t, they might start thinking of going into the mirror business because it might be the only job they will find.

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