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Schell: Journalism Ideals Weaker Than Ever

Over at Jay Rosen’s PressThink, Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California-Berkeley, writes in part:

the role and acceptance by our state of the media as a legitimate and necessary institution is weaker now than ever before.

He prefaced that remark by saying:

there are haunting similarities between the public relations apparatus of the current administration and the propaganda apparatus of Leninist political parties. They include ultra-loyalty and obedience to the supreme leader; extreme party discipline; an absolute imperative to stay on-message (fidelity to “the correct line”); maximizing the use of state organs for propaganda purposes; and a poorly evolved appreciation of the essential role that the Founding Fathers of this country imagined for the press as an independent watchdog over all kinds of power (whether state, ecclesiastical, corporate, etc.)

He continues:

what I worry about is not so much that the next generation of journalists will be swayed by or sell out to press mythology, but that they will end up so bereft of good models and so despondent about the state of their profession that they may lose all hope and idealism. Then what? After all, if you are going to be a journalist, repayment must come in some other currency than dollars. One of those alternative currencies journalism trades in is “able to make a difference.”

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