Greenwald on Lazy Journalism and Rewarding Dishonesty

Glenn Greenwald, from a dialogue with New York Times editor Bill Keller, in, yes, the New York Times:

I don’t think anyone contends that what has become (rather recently) the standard model for a reporter — concealing one’s subjective perspectives or what appears to be “opinions” — precludes good journalism.

But this model has also produced lots of atrocious journalism and some toxic habits that are weakening the profession. A journalist who is petrified of appearing to express any opinions will often steer clear of declarative sentences about what is true, opting instead for a cowardly and unhelpful “here’s-what-both-sides-say-and-I-won’t-resolve-the-conflicts” formulation. That rewards dishonesty on the part of political and corporate officials who know they can rely on “objective” reporters to amplify their falsehoods without challenge (i.e., reporting is reduced to “X says Y” rather than “X says Y and that’s false”).

Worse still, this suffocating constraint on how reporters are permitted to express themselves produces a self-neutering form of journalism that becomes as ineffectual as it is boring. A failure to call torture “torture” because government officials demand that a more pleasant euphemism be used, or lazily equating a demonstrably true assertion with a demonstrably false one, drains journalism of its passion, vibrancy, vitality and soul.

Read the rest at the New York Times.

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Platypuses Go Mega

Image

There’s no fauna like megafauna. Australian paleontologists have identified an extinct giant platypus that lived over 5 million years ago from a single fossil tooth. But wait, you say, platypi don’t have teeth, they have a duckbill. Well, that’s evolution: juvenile modern platypuses do have teeth, which they lose as they grow up. The newly identified fossil tooth is much larger and indicates the extinct platypus, Obdurodon tharalkooschild may have been more carnivorous. Hence some hyperbole in the Australian:

“Everything else would have thought twice about going for a swim with this platypus-zilla” (from one of the co-authors), and the headline, “Giant platypus a ‘fearsome’ predator”, which apparently has now been improved to “Ancient platypus was big and bitey.”

See also Science Daily for the press release and picture.

Picture Source: Reconstruction / Illustration by Peter Schouten.