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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

'Speaking Truth to Power'

Dan RatherGrizzled Texan newsman Dan Rather tore into the Main Stream Media (MSM) at the SXSW conference and festival last week. His remarks, while directed at "the candy ass reporters covering the White House," could be applied to the way the MSM has covered this pitiful Duke/Nifong/Cooper Hoax. Rather said:

"The journalism craft has degenerated into what I consider to be a very perilous state," ...

Rather harped on what many of you already know, which is that so-called mainstream media have become obsessed with access to officials in power. Reporters will hold back from charging after subjects in certain stories, if they think criticism now will hurt the chances of a fluffy interview later.

"Increasingly, journalists try to play it safe," Rather said. They think, "I know that this is true, but it's tough stuff, and, if I run this, I am going to pay a price for it. So maybe, I should just water it down a tad."
Later, in an interview with Daniel Terdiman of CNET, Rather expanded on why he thinks the Main Stream Media has become "spineless." Rather also said some very important things about blogging and journalism:
CNET: What role can the Internet play in neutralizing the effect of media consolidation?

Rather: ... At its best, journalism on the Internet--including blogging--does some of the following, holds people to accountability. It says, "Wait a minute, this is what the governor says, or the mayor says, or the president says. But here are the facts, and by any reasonable analysis, this is the truth." It's speaking truth to power, but it's become almost a cliche, because it's a powerful thought, and it's an essential for journalism in a society such as ours, a constitutional democracy based on the principles of freedom and democracy, that you have a high degree of accountability, that you have a constant questioning of power.
The phrase, "Speaking Truth to Power," explains one important reason why this massive and unjust hoax was perpetrated in Durham. No one, who was in a position to speak truth to the power of a rogue and corrupt district attorney did so.

Not the local newspapers, the Herald-Sun and the News Observer. Not the local television stations. Not the largest employer in Durham and the school of three railroaded students, Duke University. Not the local chapter of the NAACP. Not the local politicians. A who's who of Durham and North Carolina's so called watch dogs became candy ass, spineless goop. That is a scandal onto itself.

Rather also said:
Anybody who blogs, who does real reporting, which is to say, make telephone calls, go interview people, go talk to people, in a spirit of independence...and (tries) to do journalism with integrity, I would consider a journalist.
This hoax inspired many citizen journalists, bloggers, and those notorious "blog hooligans" to come forward and to speak truth to the power of District Attorney Mike Nifong and the corruption in Durham. Hats off to all of them.

Sources:
Ashly Vance, The Register:
Blog Nation embraces Rather after flaying him
Daniel Terdiman, CNET:
Blogging's not the enemy, says Dan Rather
BlogHerald:
Dan Rather: “Actually, Blogging CAN Be Journalism”

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