What Is Hidden and What Is Revealed

Something that pops up every time old/new media tensions emerge is the view—which I find, frankly, bizarre—common in the newspaper world that pretending to not have opinions makes your work better. One underlying presumption here is the odd notion that the ideal reporter would be someone who actually doesn’t have opinions, as if “the facts” were purely transparent and could be merely observed, processed, and then regurgitated into inverted pyramid form without passing through the muck of “judgment” or “thoughts about the world.”

Then the secondary presumption is that you can somehow make things real by pretending. Like if you want to express judgments about politicians in conversations with your friends, that’s fine, but you have to never publish them. Thus if you foolish assume that a private, but large, email list will be kept genuinely private and then something “private” goes “public” now your actual professional work is invalidated. But why? Somehow keeping the views secret is supposed to be a close substitute for not having them. But of course having a secret is totally different from having nothing. The conceit that make-believe is just as good as the real thing only arises because the real thing is impossible to achieve. That should make you rethink why you would deem it desirable, but instead leads to the odd conclusion that the best journalist is a consistently dishonest one.