March 26, 2018

LA Times Journo Reacts to Parkland Student: ‘Journalism *Is* Activism’

On Sunday, CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter spoke with Marjory Stoneman Douglas school newspaper co-editor Rebecca Schneid. When asked if she sees “a difference right now between journalism and activism and what you’re doing,” Schneid responded that “in its own right journalism is a form of activism.” In a telling Twitter followup, Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce, who should know better, showed that he doesn’t see a difference, and is proud of it: “Journalism *is* activism in its most basic form.” That explains a lot about Pearce, and his newspaper.

The relevant Stelter-Schneid interview segment below begins after Stelter asked his “journalism and activism” question, and is shown with CNN’s accompanying tweeted tease:

Transcript (full program transcript is here):

REBECCA SCHNEID: I think that for me, the purpose of journalism is to raise, you know, the voices of people that maybe don’t have a voice and so, I think that in its own right journalism is a form of activism. And I think that there is distinctions for me you know as a journalist and also as someone that wants to demand change, but I think that the partnership of the two is the only reason that we are able to make a change.

BRIAN STELTER: How is the experience of the past five weeks to this, this sickening shooting and then the march yesterday, how’s it changed your view of your career in the future?

SCHNEID: I think that in the beginning, I was a bit disillusioned because there are some journalists that I think handled the situation a little bit, not in the most respectful way, you know, but that’s an every situation, there’s always going to be those people. But, you know, throughout the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen how journalism has made this entire thing possible.

The use of Twitter and the use of social media and also in all the publications and TV shows that have allowed us to use our voices, it demonstrates to me more than ever that journalism is necessary in this world to make sure that our voices are heard.

STELTER: And what’s your expectation for the rest of the school year and for the fall? What actually happens now?

SCHNEID: Now, we just keep on fighting. We keep on using journalism to raise our voices because the second that the cameras go away, then people can you know forget about us and politicians can forget that we’re there. And so, now, it’s more than ever we need to fight for our voices to be heard. And not only that, we need to use our right as voters and as citizens, you know, of America, we need to use that right to vote out the people that won’t listen to us because it’s really hard to make a change when the people that are supposed to be listening to you aren’t.

Several responders on Twitter took strong exception to Schneid’s take on what journalism is supposed to be (h/t Twitchy):

Two journalists took strong exception:

  • Meg Kinnard at the Associated Press — “Journalism is not activism. This should not have gone unchallenged.”
  • Josh Kraushaar at National Journal — “Journalism isn’t activism; it’s presenting the facts, honestly and objectively. It’s this mentality that’s killing trust in our profession.”

One who didn’t take exception was the LA Time’s Pearce, who, in two tweets, told the world, perhaps inadvertently, more than most “journalists” of his ilk want us to know:

MattPearceLATactivismTweets032518

In two key instances covered at NewsBusters in 2015, Matt Pearce showed us what results from his declared mission of selectivity. First in a 2014 “Year in Review” column, and then in coverage of actors’ refusals to recite facts from the Michael Brown grand jury testimony when auditioning for the Ferguson play, Pearce would not concede that the left’s contention that Brown said, “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” before he was shot was a myth. Even then-Attorney General Eric Holder ended up reluctantly conceding that point.

Longtime readers of the LA Times who have compared its output to other newspapers, online publications, and news sources know that there is a hardly an entity posing as a comprehensive national news outlet which so frequently and arbitrarily engages in choosing what it wants readers to know, and ignoring important facts it doesn’t want readers to see. In other words, it is a paper whose daily mission — consistent with Matt Pearce’s admission — is activism, not journalism.

Cross-posted, with possible revisions, at NewsBusters.org.

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