Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Former Student Asks: What is News, Anyway?

That's a softball question. There's no really good answer, nor any really bad one either, so I said:

Okay, news is what people want to know for many reasons, all of them personal and few of them edifying. When it comes to news, your average person (including you; including me) is a glutton, not a gourmet. News is goulash, and it’s filled with unctuous chunks of gossip. Journalism, on the other hand, is information produced and distributed in the public interest, as subjective as the notion of ‘public interest’ is. In my ethics class, we talk about Benjamin Franklin’s notion of ‘the price of truth,’ which just means that if you squeeze out too much of the gossip, the trash, the nonessential, the air goes out of the balloon.

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