Sunday, June 30, 2013

David Gregory, Glenn Greewald, and the Question of Journalism

Jay Rosen looks at the exchange between David Gregory, Glenn Greenwald, and the issue of 'who is a journalist?'

While the question may seem irrelevant, the press like to point out that their profession is specifically mentioned as deserving of special protection in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Journalists argue that protections for reporters against, for example requiring them to reveal their sources, benefit society in the same way such confidentiality protections do for lawyers, doctors, and ministers. The President himself recently endorsed a press shield law. Nevertheless, defining 'who is a journalist' is more difficult than many in the official press like to think it is, particularly in an age of online publishing.

If David Gregory thinks Glenn Greenwald should be charged with a crime, he should say so. On the other hand, the term "criminalizing journalism," is a term largely without meaning. Journalism is properly protected by the Constitution, but neither does an action become immune to prosecution merely because it is designated "journalism." Like any other person, a journalist may, or may not commit a crime ni the course of doing their job,' but to prosecute reporters merely for receiving classified information is properly and widely regarded an as dangerous in a functioning representative democracy.

Jay Rosen's analysis is excellent; but I would like to highlight a habit of David Gregory's that his method of interviewing : his use of the passive voice to inject certain opinions into his show.  I have little doubt Gregory himself thinks of this method as both hard-hitting and incisive; he probably cannot see what he is doing, parroting and giving credence to Beltway chatter. He usually does this by vaguely announcing “There’s a question" and repeating what he insists "people are saying," important people, naturally.


"The question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regard to what you’re doing"

“There’s a question about his role in this, The Guardian’s role in all of this. It is actually part of the debate,"

"Some people think that security is more important, or that secrecy should be decided by democratically-elected officials and not by individual whistleblowers"