The mask of journalistic aggression

Posted on April 23rd, 2015 by Bernie Russell

I happened upon this quote from Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker while doing some research on a social media project. (Yes, again with the serendipity.)

It struck a chord. You’ll see why.

Some caveats: it’s dated December 12, 1994; he’s obviously writing about the US media; and he’s venting because the Republicans had just taken control of Congress in Clinton’s first term. (Most East Coast journalists would view this as the arrival of the barbarians at the gates.)

But, that said …

Aggression has become a kind of abstract form, practiced in a void of ideas, or even of ordinary sympathy. In a grim paradox, the media in America, because their aggression has been kept quarantined from good ideas, have become surprisingly vulnerable to bad ideas… the jaded tone and the prosecutorial tone are masks, switched quickly enough so that you can appear active and neutral at the same time. Or, to put it another way, the cynicism and the sanctimony turn out to be a little like electricity and magnetism — two aspects of a single field, perpetuating themselves in a thought-free vacuum.

… he could be talking about the Today Programme, Newsnight, Wato, etc., etc.

And he could be talking about them today. Time for a change?

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