Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Personal Passions and Journalistic Detachment

An interesting post from Andrew Revkin's blog DotEarth for the New York Times, talking about how journalists can reconcile the issues they are personally passionate about with the need to be detached and well-rounded in their reporting.

The post is taken from a 2005 speech given by Revkin (when he was still a full-time Times reporter, instead of a blogger) but I think it drives home some interesting points about being a journalist.

Writers are people first, and journalists second but a requirement of the profession is not to insert your own voice into the reporting, unless you are a columnist. Writers have to conform to the style of whatever publication they work for. This can dilute their own voice even more as they adapt to specific structure and standards.

I also found Revkin's thoughts on how science writers approach content interesting. There is no doubt that it can be difficult to show a new scientific finding in the greater context of all the findings that have occurred before it. I think science writers need to find a balance between skill and instinct that informs how to explain an issue, something that only comes with experience.

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