Friday, June 08, 2018

Nothing Matters

Once upon at time I was at a journalism conference and a person whose name you probably know was talking about her then-newspaper (I don't say the name only because this is from memory and the details are fuzzy. Not because there is some need to protect her or that it was off the record). Basically she said she didn't believe in doing activist journalism, but then went on to say that she was proud of reporting that her newspaper had done which had led to a change in law which (I think, again from memory) closed a loophole which was letting people get off from DUI charges. I pointed out that this was a bit of a contradiction.

There's a lot in there: 1) that we all agree DUI is bad 2) we all agree that this particular law was badly crafted and 3) (probably most importantly) we all agree that the new law which led to more people being penalized for DUIs was superior. Even if 1) and 2) are noncontroversial, 3) should be. I mean, even if you think DUIs are bad and should be punished, there are still problems with bringing people into the justice system, with giving cops increased power for car stops and checkpoints, etc. Maybe this isn't the most controversial thing in the world, but it still involves essentially taking a stand on what the law should be.

And it isn't too much of a reach to go from there to "putting children in cages is bad and we would hope our reporting on this issue will put a stop to this practice." Or "racism is bad" or "children shouldn't die because they can't get medical care."