November 29, 2009

JOURNALISM WATCH: TO SERVE AND PLEASE?

BERKELEY, Calif. — For the last six years, The Berkeley Daily Planet has published a freewheeling assortment of submissions from readers, who offer sharp-elbowed views on everything from raucous college parties (generally bad) to the war in Iraq (ditto). But since March, that running commentary has been under attack by a small but vociferous group of critics who accuse the paper’s editor, Becky O’Malley, of publishing too many letters and other commentary pieces critical of Israel. Those accusations are the basis of a campaign to drive away the paper’s advertisers and a Web site that strongly suggests The Planet and its editor are anti-Semitic. “We think that Ms. O’Malley is addicted to anti-Israel expression just as an alcoholic is to drinking,” Jim Sinkinson, who has led the campaign to discourage advertisers, wrote in an e-mail message. He is the publisher of Infocom Group, a media relations company.  “If she wants to serve and please the East Bay Jewish community, she would be safer avoiding the subject entirely.”

Now, this is from a New York Times article about a certain dispute between a Berkeley newspaper and a couple of Jewish advocacy groups, and I'm not even going to get into the whole semite vs. anti-semite sentiment that is playing out here, primarily because it would take too long to formulate an informed opinion on it that essentially would boil down to "It's a very fucked up situation in the Middle East, and both sides are to blame".

But also because it's not the issue here that made me throw up in my mouth. You could easily exchange "anti-semitism" with "racism" with "why is everybody pissing on white men".

Here's the sentence that should start your alarm clock, ladies and gentlemen.

If she wants to serve and please the East Bay Jewish community, she would be safer avoiding the subject entirely.

Mr. Sinkinson appears to have a very warped, twisted and all in all retarded view of what journalism is supposed to do, and unfortunately, such a view has become the predominant one in those areas where powerful lobbies of any kind are trying to wrestle control from writers and journalists and scientists.

Let me say it again: to serve and please?

A journalist is there to rip open the bandages and put the fucking finger on the wound, to expose people who abuse their power, and to tell the truth. Nothing else. Tell the truth, and damn the consequences, because people have the right to know, because people have a need to know.

To serve and please. 

Oh, please...