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The Death of Journalism? Part 2

August 23, 2013

By Nicholas F. Benton

In positing the rhetorical question about “the death of journalism,” it must be stressed that it could only happen, in any final sense, in conjunction with the death of democracy, itself.

When it is examined in this way – the relation between the free and independent flow of information versus powerful, militaristic forces acting in secret and deceiving the public to build a fortress infrastructure capable of standing against the exercise of any popular will – then the question is re-framed in terms of some of the biggest headlines of the day.

Can it be that the achievements of whistle-blowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, and their news outlets Wikileaks and the Guardian, are setting a new standard for genuine journalism today? Certainly this notion has to make a lot of comfy newsmen, pundits and talking heads a bit uneasy, if not downright defensive and angry.

For them, it might stop with the notion of whether they would do likewise, were they in the positions of either Manning or Snowden, or whether the idea of getting caught, of being reviled and hounded by their government, and spending most of the rest of their lives in jail or exile. Oh no!

But it can’t be forgotten that the actual information that was uncovered and made public pertained to programs initiated during the criminal administration of President George W. Bush, involving two of the most excessive abuses of the democratic process in American history.

The first was the Patriot Act response to the terrorist assault of 9/11. That attack so traumatized the national psyche, so unaccustomed to such an egregious disruption of the nation’s merry pursuit of football and consumerism that almost no one in Washington, D.C. would dare even whisper any resistance to whatever potentially-abusing intrusions on the private lives of Americans our military establishment demanded as an aggressive, all-out response. There were objections then, but they were abruptly suppressed. Read more in the Falls Church News-Press.

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