What Good Is ‘Journalism’?

There is a court case that I’m involved enough with that I need to be silent on the details (until this Thursday when it should be settled) but curious enough about to examine its crux. Is it journalism if you don’t cover the story?

Union County government gets covered only by www.countywatchers.com and one local paper exclusively.  On those rare occasions when county government is reported on by other media outlets it’s basically either reprints of county press releases or piggy-backing on the coverage from these two sources.  As regards Union County government the state’s largest newspaper certainly does not practice journalism by anyone’s definition.

The argument in the Renna case (this link gives you all the backup on the filings) is that Tina Renna is a mere blogger and not a journalist* entitled to protections against having to reveal sources.  The defendants’ brief supporting this position cites the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists (SBJ) which begins:

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.

I agree with much of how they define journalism and its mission but one thing keeps gnawing.  With the most important matters effecting our lives (massive public and private debt, pension crises, government corruption through legalized bribery) being superficially covered, if at all, what good does journalism do us if it’s not practiced in these areas?  What good to anyone is fair and comprehensive reporting on Jersey Shore?




Notwithstanding that one particular detractor considered her journalist enough to sue for defamation.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tough Love on January 27, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Unfortunately there is money (from sponsors) for coverage of J”ersey Shore” and such, but little sponsorship money for coverage of the crisis you mention.

    A more important example: The British equal to the US Surgeon General recently addressed their gov’t warning of an impending medical catastrophe due to the rapid growth of superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics. She lamented that the major drug companies will not spend research dollars on drugs where the typical dosage is necessary for but a few days. Hence it’s marginally profitable compared to the drugs for cholesterol, arthritis, pain, diabetes, etc., that patients must take for a lifetime.

    It all come down to money and greed .,…. JUST LIKE what drives the Public Sector Unions & workers.


    • I don’t think MTV pumps much money into the Star-Ledger. They cover it because they like to and they can handle the barrier to understanding which requires at least a second-grade education.

      The reason I see for the lack of coverage of the big issues is laziness and ignorance and not necessarily by the public who would eat up this information. Who wants to go through all those audit and budget reports unearthing the dirt only to have the County Finance Director call you a ‘fucking asshole’? Due to a good OPRA law (for now until they change it to take away payment of attorneys’ fees) a lot of the malfeasance is visible for anyone who grasps its import to report on. The Star Ledger and others have, for the most part, demurred.

      Plus there is that legal ad revenue that makes silence on government corruption profitable.


  2. Posted by skip3house on January 27, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Not new at all. I can recall in the 1960s overhearing one side of a phone conversation between a journalist/relative and an ‘up there’ NJ law enforcer. My side could not understand why no outrage when the story was printed. …….


  3. Posted by Anonymous on January 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    unions have more power than politicians, they control the entire state and nothing can be done. they will drain the state dry


  4. Posted by Anonymous on January 28, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Why isnt anyone doing investigative reporting on the potential public retiree bail out of health benefits via Obamacare? Starting with Chicago retirees and most likely moving to a state near you.


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