Friday, January 27, 2006

The Articulation of Our Time

Michael J. Kirkhorn's essay, "The Virtuous Journalist," published way back in 1982, remains one of the most brilliant meditations on journalism that I have ever read:

"There are journalists who contribute to our education and fortify our convictions. They participate, as John Grierson said of the documentary filmmakers he inspired, to the "articulation of our time." They reveal to us something which seems truthful, and quite often the act of revealing requires that, among other intervening deceptions, they must sweep aside a clutter of inferior and obscuring journalism, and resist the journalistic stereotyping which compounds falsification. They must practice a counter-journalism, detect and avoid the processes through which the assumption of chaos (Iranians acting incomprehensibly) is reduced to the presumption of understanding (the incomprehensibility of Iranians certified by western reporters). The reporting and interpreting offered by such journalists is unsparing -- neither we nor they are spared; their understanding is hard-won -- won from the facts and not confined to them, and clarified by rigorous and sometimes painful and discouraging reflection." (Michael J. Kirkhorn, "The Virtuous Journalist: An Exploratory Essay," The Quill, February 1982).


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