Journalism and Memory

We received a letter on the SD Times reflector with lines such as “you guys mindlessly regurgitating the marketing hype of the self-congratulatory X committees….X is essentially nothing but a tacit admission…that the previous 4 versions of the spec were nothing but an incredibly expensive series of mistakes….How about you do some journalism for a change?  Now *that* would be revolutionary.”

First, it’s not really important what X is (you can guess, can’t you?). The thing I’m thinking about is, to what extent should the news side of the paper cover the past? In the columns, absolutely: we’re paid to have memories and doubt people. But to what extent should a news story say “They say they’re going to do this, or that it means this, but we doubt it?” In MSM, the standard way to do that is to find a skeptic who expresses the doubts. But that’s just tactics. There’s this old journalistic ideal of objectivity, but especially when it comes to new initiatives, you really can’t be objective. Maybe the Administration really will consult with Congress this time, maybe X really solves big problems. Maybe Lucy won’t pull out the football this time.