All True Journalism is Adversarial (Will Grigg)
Wednesday July 17th, 2013
Thomas Jefferson famously said that he would prefer to have a newspaper without a government over having a government without a newspaper. Unfortunately, those running the contemporary news media see themselves as allies to, or appendages of, government, rather than principled and indispensable antagonists to it.
One small but telling example is offered by The Monitor, a daily newspaper in McAllen, Texas. Last spring, the Monitor learned that the McAllen city government was negotiating with the GEO Group, a Florida-based private prison corporation, about building a 1,000-bed jail that would accept federal inmates. The paper didnít report on the discussions until July 2, in a story that contained the following admission: ďAt the cityís request, The Monitor didnít report the news to avoid tipping off potential competitors and skunking the deal.Ē
That news embargo also prevented the public from learning about the plans of the city government that is supposedly accountable to them. Were The Monitor an actual newspaper, rather than a propaganda organ, its editorial board would understand that its job is to disclose things the city government seeks to conceal, especially when taxpayer money is involved.
Where government is concerned, all true journalism is adversarial. Everything else is stenography.