|By A. D. Freudenheim||
28 January 2001
In mid-September of last year, I started writing some kind of column for this web site on a weekly basis. The end of January provides no obvious anniversary, but it nonetheless seems an appropriate time to reflect on that last four-plus months and the resulting twenty-plus essays. My initial motivations were complicated and varied; some of them were intensely personal, while others were a reflection of a much broader, deeper, and often political sense of ambition. In the process of writing these articles, I have (re)learned a number of things about myself, lessons I only hope I can apply to my work in the future.
I have become reacquainted with the workmanship aspects of writing after too many years away. Inspiration has been a key component, and it has been easy to formulate in my head, in advance, many of the pieces I have subsequently written. I have often been motivated by anger or outrage, sadness or even desperation, and I think that this emotional element has come through clearly - filtered through an intellectual, analytical process, but clear in its origins nonetheless. At other times, what appeared to be the kernel of a good essay failed to explode into a fully-blown article. In those instances, I have had to labor - in the most basic sense of the word - to tease out my arguments and the direction I wished to take in order to express an opinion about a particular topic. Difficult and frustrating work, particularly the process of attempting to imbue the same sense of urgency and feeling into a piece of writing that in some cases simply did not develop with the same emotional or intellectual strength. This has made it no less enjoyable, it has only further opened my eyes to the extent to which I cannot always expect to rely on inspiration in life.
I have also continued to reevaluate how I feel about the profession of journalism. Much of what I have written concerns what I see as the collapse of American journalism: the failure to admit a lack of objectivity, the failure to admit bias where bias exists, and the failure to admit limited knowledge about a given topic. It is certainly true that I do not have any of the constraints that most journalists do; I am my own editor and publisher, and I am attempting to provide an alternative opinion and analysis on selected topics, rather than the kind of in-depth background reporting that makes newspapers and the like valuable sources of information.
In writing these articles I have reviewed the work of many journalists, and doing so has continued to hone my sense that American journalists all too often miss the point. I could offer explanations - for example, that the increasing number of interlocking relationships between the corporate parents of the different news organizations constrains the scope and integrity of their reporting - but I prefer instead not to fall into the same trap with such a poor analysis. Ultimately, the responsibility for the quality of any given article or news report rests with two people: the author and the consumer. American journalists, in maintaining the myth of objectivity, eschew a certain responsibility to admit the influence of their own perspectives. Meanwhile, the consumer's responsibility is to reject poor journalism at the earliest opportunity and to be consistent in applying his/her own analytical skills to the information being presented. Bad journalism only sells because people are willing to buy it.
Finally, I have begun to see challenges to the consistency of my political perspective. In daily life, I think most of us feel some freedom in expressing our political views on the topics of the day - but it is also likely that only a few of us are ever held to a standard of consistency in our views over the course of more than a few discussions. (We argue an issue from a particular perspective; weeks later, we may argue the opposite position of a related issue, when the subject matter hits closer to home. Unless we're a major public figure, who notices?) In writing these essays, I have turned the tables on myself: I now have a record of where I stand on a selected set of issues, and I have found myself on a few occasions rethinking them in the context of newer topics that have presented themselves. I am not always troubled by inconsistency - life is a fairly inconsistent thing, and being overly consistent would just make it boring. But for the most part, most of us don't get the opportunity to see an aspect of ourselves so clearly, and thus to learn from it. This process has taught me a great deal about myself, and it has helped to further shape my political perspective.
Over the last few months, I have been asked by different people what I plan to do with these essays. I have even had some suggestions that I should seek opportunities to publish them elsewhere; elsewhere usually means some major news outlet that would broaden my audience and make the enterprise financially valuable, too. I don't think so. For now, this web site continues to be nothing more than a good learning experience; a consistently open opportunity to explore my own ideas and my ability to express them; to stretch a part of my mind that has been dormant for too long; to evaluate, and reevaluate, and then reevaluate again some of the perplexing problems of the day - and look into how these micro events may be reflections of the macro aspects of life. The motto of my alma mater is "To know is not enough." That's the truth as I continue to see it.
|Copyright 2001, by A. D. Freudenheim. May not be used in whole or part without written permission. However, you may link to this page as desired! This page is part of: The Truth As I See It.|