Burns Alumni Newsletter, Oslo

I was fortunate enough to be able to write this article for the Arthur Burns Fellowship alumni newsletter.  To see the whole newsletter click here.  (Opens in a new window.)  For just my article, keep reading…

The transformation of sleepy Oslo to fortified Nobel host city was tangible. There was anxiety on the sidewalks as citizens walked carefully by concrete barricades, policemen with machine guns and bomb-sniffing dogs—all in place for the arriving VIPs.  Even manhole covers were welded shut as a security measure—the official sign that a U.S. president is or has been to a city.

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Restoring Journalism

Though our time in Germany is great for seeing sights, and making personal breakthroughs (like learning to eat bananas and spaghetti: good work baby) there is a more serious reason I am here: Journalism.

I am listening and learning as much as I can about the radio system in Germany, but also on the state of journalism in general.  In the States the numbers are grim, but Germany’s problems are different, and may be tougher to solve.

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A Free and Un-obnoxious Press

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John Hancock knows what’s up. (utexas.edu)

As a journalist, I'm sure many expect me to be a diehard advocate for the freedom of the press.  One may think, "Hey, he's a member of the press.  He should want to be free."  In most cases I do press hard for press freedom (at least in my thoughts–people don't often ask my opinion on the subject) if not solely because of the added life accountability can breathe into a society.  Just by publishing a story, or airing an interview, countless numbers of people from now until the end of digital records could possibly be influenced by the reported perspective of a newsmaker.

But perhaps you caught my "…In most cases…" caveat to an otherwise noble ideal.  The founding fathers (John Hancock being one of the first advocates) knew that a free society could not flourish in its freedom until the threats of sedition and treason were lifted from those printing *relative* truths.  (The first journalists printed some pretty terrible things.)  That noble beginning aside, I'm bothered by the occasional perversion of the First Amendment by the proud, the few, the Obnoxious Journalist Crowd.

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Finding Fairness

Murrow's Way
Murrow's Way

Ed Murrow said a journalist could be fair, if not objective. But in his day reporters also acted as ‘news analysts.’

Depending on your perspective, the “Mainstream Media” may be part of either a vast left-wing, or Kentucky Fried right-wing conspiracy.  Thighs and drumsticks aside, these judgments are often based on a person’s own sense of injustice to a certain cause.  If a news outlet passes over, or offers inadequate coverage of a subject hold dear, said outlet must be serving its own agenda. 

I don’t wish to defend or explain the perceived lack of neutrality of certain outlets, but in the same breath I can talk a little to what a news story should contain. 

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