Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New journalism: partisan but professional

My headline ought to get some of my journalistic colleagues' juices flowing, but according to a writer in The Atlantic's January/February issue, American journalists are going to have to make some accommodation with the concept.

In fact, I'm making an accommodation to the notion with this ongoing blog. I'm writing about small business and politics from a very liberal perspective. And I hope to attract advertisers to my readership.

Paul Starr, a professor at Princeton, wrote the Atlantic piece. In "Governing in the Age of Fox News," Starr states toward the end: "Although most American journalists assume that professionalism and partisanship are inherently incompatible, that is not necessarily so. Partisan media can, and in some countries do, observe professional standards in their presentation of the news."

I have always questioned the journalistic principle of so-called "objectivity" in news coverage because I know as a writer the way you put words to paper (or on a screen) is inherently subjective. What nouns you use, what adjectives are colored by the writer's choice of words.

There's no escaping the tinge except by the samurai editor's butchering sword.

Unfortunately, quality of writing often slides away with the fat of a trim; occassionally, however, the cuts can actually make the writing better.

I take my journalistic principles and professionalism to the writing of this blog. I mean for my profiles of small businesses to carry the good and the bad about a firm, although my advocacy for small business will emphasize the good over the bad in most cases. And I will always give a business owner the benefit of the doubt.

I will not, however, give business as a community a pass when it comes to the harsher side of issues. Colorado's current debate over the elimination of tax exemptions for business is an example.

The tax exemptions should be removed in an attempt to balance two state budgets (fiscal 2010 and 2011) despite any damage to the state's reputation as "business friendly." A "people friendly" business community will recognize it must contribute to fiscal austerity that requires Colorado to reduce services to all its citizens.

At the same time, legislators should not forget that business owners are citizens, too, and already share as much as anyone else in the general pain.

Tax exemptions can be restored as well as removed.

If the state would correct its budgeting problems, if it can regain some economic steam, and refuel its revenue streams, exemptions and incentives can be given back as easily as they can be taken away.

Business and the business lobby knows that. They should begin working for the common good rather than their own self-interest.

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