Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Does Journalism Limit Free Speech?

In Hugh Hewitt's recent interview of ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin, Halperin said he thinks "having views and expressing them is a dangerous thing," and that "talking about them is only bad for America."

Then it struck me: without attribution, I would have guessed that to be a line from the Colbert Report. Here's the whole thing, scraped from Hewitt's site:

Hugh, it’s the same thing on issues as it is on candidates. I don’t think it’s appropriate, if you’re going to cover these things, to talk about views. I will say this, Hugh. I will say that many people I work with in ABC, and other old media organizations, are liberal on a range of issues. And I think the ability of that, the reality of how that affects media coverage, is outrageous, and that conservatives in this country for forty years have felt that, and that it’s something that must change. But what my views are, are not important, and just like I said on not voting, I think having views and expressing them is a dangerous thing. I have opinions and thoughts, but I think talking about them is only bad for America.

Most journalists are all about freedom of speech, balanced arefully with a fine sense of ethics (most of the time). The basic tenet of the profession is to keep your opinions to yourself while on the job (perpetually, it seems).

But to not vote in an election for neutrality's sake, or to not express an opinion unrelated to a job - should that be?

Now, I'm all for a neutral press, but it seems to me that this scenario is a paradox. We have a free press for freedom of speech - but whose?

There's a time and a place for everything, and the newroom isn't the place for one's own opinion. But when the news cycle is 24/7, are journalists being stamped out of their own right for credibility's sake?

Does a journalism job limit one's own free speech?

No comments: