[E]very journalist […] at some point will have to face the morally indefensible way we go about our business: namely, using other people to tell a story about the world. Not everyone dupes their subjects into trusting them, but absolutely everyone robs other people of their stories to tell their own. Every journalist knows this flushed feeling, a mix of triumph and guilt, of securing the story that will redound glory unto them, not the subject. Some subjects who have no outlet, who are voiceless, approve of this arrangement, since they have no other way of getting their story heard. But even they will not wholly recognize their own depiction in the newspaper, by virtue of the fact that it was told by someone else with their own agenda. This is what Jonathan Franzen has called the “inescapable shame of being a storyteller”—that it involves stealing from another person, much in the way some people believe a photograph steals a bit of the sitter’s soul.
I’m not sure what to think of Richard Sambrook appearing to struggle to find a place for traditional journalism in the age of the internet, but the story’s worth a read.
David Weinberger […] talked about the crisis in US journalism with failing trust in the big news organisations. He pointed out that Google now provided a news service with just an algorithm where there used to be a newsroom of dozens of people — and suggested algorithms were probably more reliable than journalists anyway! So if information is commodotised, and the public can tell their own stories, what’s the role for the journalist? I came up with three things — verification (testing rumour and clearing fog), explanation (context and background) and analysis (a Google search won’t provide judgement). And journalists still have the resources to go places and uncover things that might otherwise remain hidden. Citizens can do all of those things, but not consistently, and with even less accountability than the media.