“We need to embrace, even relish, our legacy as malcontents and troublemakers, people who are willing to say the thing that makes everyone else uncomfortable.”
The day after the election, the results of which seemed to mystify much of America, particularly mainstream media, Kyle Pope, author of the quote above, entitles his piece in the Columbia Journalism Review: “Here’s to the return of journalist as malcontent.”
Given “the global ambition” of the “twenty leading websites on the Internet: to produce not informed, free-thinking citizens but obedient customers,” as John Pilger opines in the introduction of his “Tell Me No Lies – Investigative Journalism That Changed the World”, here’s to those who slip the leash.
Excerpts from Pilger’s book published in 2005:
“Genuinely objective journalism not only gets the facts right, it gets the meaning of events right. It is compelling not only today, but stands the test of time.” – American journalist T.D. Allman.
It means, said Wilfred Burchett, to “slip the leash.” Writing what was called “the scoop of the century”, Burchett – “while hundreds of journalists ‘embedded’ with the Allied occupation forces in Japan in 1945 were shepherded to the largely theatrical surrender ceremony” – this journalist “set out on a perilous journey to a place now engraved in the human consciousness: Hiroshima.”
“One of the noblest human struggles is against power and its grip on historical memory,” which is journalism’s paramount role: “keeping the record straight while holding power to account.”
“Rescuing ‘objectivity’ from its common abuse as a cover for official lies,” and “begging to differ from the established guardians of society,” are characteristics not of public relations companies but journalists.
“Never believe anything,” Claud Cockburn said, “until it is officially denied.” Such is the “cynicism that journalists believe ordains them as journalists.”
“Secretive power loathes journalists who do their job: who push back screens, peer behind facades, lift rocks. Opprobrium from on high is their badge of honor.”
“It is the honorable exceptions who are celebrated here” (Pilger writes of those in his edited volume), “men and women whose disrespect for authoritarianism has allowed them to alert their readers to vital, hidden truths.” Bound together are such journalists – “their independence and courage feared” – who truly deserve the title, their “principled audacity” breeding “insurrection against the rules of the game.”
“Why is journalism like this so important? Without it, our sense of injustice would lose its vocabulary and people would not be armed with the information they need to fight it.”