Thursday, December 29, 2005

Taking the High Road on the Low Road

Oh boy. This is a tough one. I guess, fundamentally, it's a question of journalistic integrity. The blogger, as quasi-journalist, must examine each blog post to determine if it is ethically sound. The blogger has an obligation to the blog's mission statement, to the blog's readership. An obligation to present newsworthy or entertaining material.

Ours is an age where the legitimacy of real journalism is in question; an age where the mainstream media has failed to serve the public in its stated objective as watchdog over power. Be it Cokie Roberts gushing over men in uniform during a debate on whether to go to war; be it Dan Rather overcompensating for his pathetic statement on Letterman ("Bush is my president. Where he tells me to line up, I line up"), by rushing a less-than-air-tight piece on Bush's National Guard experience, inadvertently destroying the legitimacy of all reporting on that subject; be it the antics of Le Circus du Fair et Balanced; examples of the media's failure are many. Furthermore, it is an age where the peripheral media (the second tier of "legitimacy") has failed to produce anything remotely objective. The peripheral media, will of course, point out that there is no such thing as objectivity, that all perspectives are necessarily a point of view, either completely subjective or intentionally bastardized from their subjectivity in the interest of attaining the mythic moniker of objectivity. As if this argument excuses their naked agenda-pushing.

So where does the blogger stand in this mess? Without the pressures of journalistic legitimacy, the blogger is free to sift through that which floats across the web and pick out that which might be of interest to the blog's readership. Like the satirist dodging the constraints of truth by taking shelter in Comedy (and by calling Tucker Carlson a "dick"), the blogger dodges the constraints of legitimate journalism by taking shelter in selective dissociation with the institution of Journalism. This, of course, is bullshit. It is the kid who is shooting hoops and says "I'm not trying, I'm not trying, I'm not trying" every time he misses and then gets in your face and screams "BOO YAH!!" when he banks a lucky hook shot. You're either playing the game or you're not. You either take responsibility for your obligation as a purveyor of news or you don't. Well, my friends, I'm playing the game.

Now that I am putting myself out there and taking on the responsibilities of the journalist, I am brought back to my current dilemma and the myriad of questions it produces: is something newsworthy just because it exists? Am I a failure as a purveyor of the news if I do not pass something along because I find it to be in questionable taste? And if I don't pass such an item along, have I not chosen to project my ethics on you, the readers of Von Trapper Keeper? If I recognize the ethical problems with presenting some troubling material, does that mean I'm ignoring the ethical obligations inherent in journalism? Is it perhaps shoddy journalism to even have this debate, rather than to simply and dispassionately present the news? Well, there's a time for debate and there's a time for action. Here, without further ado, is a shocking article (with photo) regarding Rasputin's genitals from Do with this information what you will.


Anonymous said...

Commodification of and exoticizing human parts has a robust history in institutions of "higher learning."


Dan said...

I always suspected there was something sexual in the intellectual. What's that link again? I enabled comment moderation to stop blogspam, but it appeared to catch all anon posts, so I disabled it.