Friday, March 30, 2012

Hang Down Your Head, Mr. Dooley

‘Afflicting the Comfortable...’

This famed journalistic self-justification comes from Mr. Dooley, the pen name of a great journalist of the last century, Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936):

“Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward.”

But the Poynter Institute’s “Dr. Ink” says journalists should dump Mr. Dooley:

“[J]ournalists should never use the phrase again to justify their actions, unless they want old Mr. Dooley to roll over in his grave. It is true that the worst journalism comforts the comfortable and afflicts the afflicted. That is a breach of duty.

“We need journalists to get at the truth and to keep watch against abuses of power. They have a hard enough time getting that right. So let's absolve them of the responsibility of charity or iconoclasm. If journalists want to comfort the afflicted, they should send money to the Red Cross.”

—Dr. Ink (Roy Peter Clark), Afflicting the Afflicted,”
Poynteronline, 2002

• Editorial Comment: Or to the St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose, where growing troops of laid-off journalists end up.

• Etch-A-Sketch: Did you miss yesterday’s WORDs from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, on governments and thinking? Click here.

• Relocation: The JCOM faculty are now baffled by stacks of boxes as we complete our move from the venerable old Animal Science Building to swanky new offices in the new Ag Building on the USU Quad.

• HELP WANTED: New Faculty for Fall 2012! The JCOM Department at Utah State is taking applications for a multimedia instructor, teaching our new required multimedia class and assisting with the Aggie TV newscast classes. For full position description, click here.

News from our award-winning student news site, The Hard News Café
Breaking Aggie TV News for March 28, 2012
Hyde Parkers will always get top priority for park use, mayor says, by Shannon McCleve
Hard News Café March News Roundup (March 26)
The Brady Jardine Story, on KUTV2’ Talkin’ Sports, by ATV Sports’ Bailey McMurdie
City Council votes to expand River Heights with annexation, by Sean O’Sullivan
License plates stolen by thief in the night
, by Chris Lee
Logan man arrested on suspicion of felony theft, by Tmera Bradley
The Aggie TV News Team Cache Rendezvous (March 21 edition). Bookmark ATV News
Cat dies in RV park fire; trailer renter charged with arson, by Mary Stocking
Fate of Cherry Peak ski area appeal still undecided, by Josh Ruggles
Scottish Highland Games: A different kind of fling in Richmond, by Chris Lee
USU Eastern student journalists win 11 Utah Press awards
Aggie journalists win 17 regional SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards
JCOM Scholarships for 2012-13. Deadline: April 2

PeezPIX by Ted Pease
Catalog here

Spring’s coming....


1 comment:

  1. Agreed.

    The flip side is that getting at truth and watching for abuses of power does not and should not grant journalists license to "afflict the comfortable." Whoever this amorphous group termed "comfortable" is depends a great deal on who is using the term.

    First, the truth makes EVERYONE uncomfortable.

    Second, it is the job of journalists to watch for and point out abuses of power. It is not the job nor the responsibility of journalists to rectify abuses of power. It is the responsibility of the readers to do so.

    Once journalists begin taking it upon themselves to "do something about it" beyond writing/telling about it, they become the ones they are supposed to be watching. Who is watching them now? Almost nobody. Who, then, will watch them when they become more powerful than they already are?