In 2008 I earned, after much difficulty, a M.A. degree from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. I believe that philosophy and journalism, as practices, have the activities of truth telling and critical inquiry in common.
I don’t believe that a journalist should aim for total objectivity and disinterestedness in storytelling. However, objectivity (as much as it’s possible in the telling of a story) and disinterestedness should be put in the service of a journalist’s judgment about what kinds of stories are worth telling, and about how to best tell them.
The following series of judgments, to which I’ve given a lot of experiential and intellectual consideration, articulate the assumptions behind the kind of “post-print” journalism I want to do.
1. I can’t tell everyone’s story. Nor would I like to. What makes one’s story interesting and not boring? Passion. Caring about what’s at stake for yourself and others–in thought and action. Demanding excellence of yourself and others–in thought and action. Standing up “to the man” in the performance of one’s daily tasks.
2. Our culture’s style is defined by, in part, bullshit and a lack of conscientiousness about and for others.
3. Pity is a complex emotion. One shouldn’t be eager to embrace it fully, nor reject it entirely.
4. Brute fact: everyone, in virtue of the human condition, has an opinion. Brute fact: not all opinions are informed by true beliefs and the passion for critical inquiry.
5. Marketing and branding are bullshit. Mind the rules of good practice in communications with others, but above all avoid communicative approaches that are contrived or formulaic. Go for what arises from great preparation in an organic, collaborative, and improvised way.
6. Style cannot be understood apart from substance. Substance = concrete relations with others in an area of shared concern.
7. Few are concerned with bettering the quality of their opinions/thoughts. Thinking isn’t easy. (If it were, everyone would be smart and wise.) Good thinking/reporting is developed/performed over time.
8. I refuse to parachute into a community looking for a quote. The better journalist is local and always around. She maintains continual ties to and conversations with her sources.
9. Work well and with what you have (i.e., that which is under your nose).
10. In general, do the opposite of whatever Frank Luntz does.