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July 19, 2007

Infusing objectivity with passion

Bridgette Redman

I'm enjoying the discussion far too much this week to change topics.

I'd like to pick up some threads that Jennifer wove into the discussion on Tuesday.

Early in my journalism career I had an editor who pointed out that it wasn't necessary or right to be objective about everything. He said he wouldn't be objective about rape, about murder, or about war. He held that he would be a poor journalist if he didn't hold an opinion about those things.

My father was a community journalist in the truest sense of the word--he was an editor who believed that he had to be a part of the community that he was covering. How could he do a good job as a journalist if he didn't care about the community he lived in and the people who populated it?

So it has never seemed dissonant to me that one should love--and love deeply--those things that you cover. Why would an editor want someone who lacked passion covering anything? When there is no passion, there can be little commitment. When there is little commitment, the writing will be dull and shallow.

And in the worse cases, when there is a journalist who hates what he or she covers, well, those results are pretty obvious as well, and not something that any media outlet needs.

However, many journalists also pride themselves on being somewhat cynical and worldly. If you start talking about love and passion as necessary components to their jobs, you're likely to get guffaws and off-color jokes. It doesn't mean they aren't bringing love and passion to their job, simply that they're uncomfortable with that sort of vocabulary.

The flip side of this is that as a freelancer, there's no way I would be a theater critic if I didn't have a love and passion for my community and for theater. I'm certainly not doing it for the money. My newspaper freelancing pays only a fraction of what my other freelance work does--and is far more demanding of my time and energy. I'm fairly certain other freelancers would say the same.

I would also argue that it is the passion and love that an arts journalist has for the arts that create a strong desire for fairness in coverage. Being in love doesn't make them less objective, it makes them more committed.

Posted by Bridgette Redman at July 19, 2007 8:14 AM

COMMENTS

Bravo! I couldn't agree more. This is an understanding that needs to be expressed more often. In a small community false cosmopolitanism is far more of a problem than over-credibility.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver at July 20, 2007 3:36 AM

Thank you.

I'm a strong believer in authenticity--that we have to be who we are and be passionate about those things that we undertake. Of course, the two feed into each other. By being authentic, I'm able to be truly passionate in a way that is meaningful to not only myself but, just possibly, to others as well.

I've also learned from experience that people will see through critics who have ulterior motives or who are less than honest.

Posted by: Bridgette at July 27, 2007 7:20 AM