The New Journalism

Along with most who watched, I found the YouTube CNN debate last night to be a great idea, well-executed. The questions were sharp, relevant and reflected fresh thinking that is so often absent in the normal pack of journalism.

They also raised a disturbing question for those of us who travel in the pack: Who needs us? Hell, anybody can be a reporter.

Anybody, that is, who can tolerate the incredibly long hours of tedium, dealing with the hostility of newsmakers and their paid protectors, who don't want you to get your story. 

And of course there's the incessant deception from so many of those same protectors, deception that can range from the "spin" to the self-serving leak to the outright lie. The conscientous reporter, the one who cares about getting the story right, must slog through that sewage day in and day out, to say nothing of the nights. All the while he or she must keep that in-your-face attitude and persistence that can be so easily eroded by the constant diversionary tactics.

The true reporter gets used to be treated like riff-raff, and revels in it. Mind you, I said the true reporter. There are many of us who get too close to the trappings of power and forget that we are always supposed to be instinctively skeptical of those who hold that power.

Not only that, but we must always look past that skepticism and other opinions to be impeccably fair with both our facts and context.

Those who can thrive in that outcast role provide a unique service. After all, where did those YouTubers get their information?

Still, their questions and presentations were a breath of fresh air from the outside.

Maybe we could use some candidates like that.