A question: With what adjective should journalists modify “coverage”?
Several are bandied about in this section of the survey, including: easy, timid, hard, cynical, ideological, liberal, and conservative.
I ask this question because any adjective overtly assumes a political point of view (the lack of one does, too, but never mind for a moment). Asking journalists about coverage with a constrained set adjectives seems to me to be skirting around a more important issue: What is the relationship of coverage to sources and the news? And, yes, one could write an entire book to answer that one.
But let me suggest a direction at the very least. While there is no such thing as an objective point of view, there is such a thing as an objective procedure. The objective point of view is a fantasy of philosophy. The objective procedure is a bound system of rules–bound, that is, by human intention. In other words, we have two very different uses of the adjective “objective” here.
I am not proposing that we modify “coverage” with “objective.” Instead, I want to suggest that modifying “coverage” with any adjective (with the possible exception of “simple” evaluation: “good” or “bad”) automatically removes it from one of journalism’s greatest achievements: the modern objective processes of reporting and editing.
Coverage should never be easy, timid, hard, cynical, ideological, liberal, or conservative. It should be good, i.e. conform to set of professional standards that reflect the values of a free press that sees itself as integral to the healthy life of a democratic republic.
UPDATE (10:50 a.m.): Jay Rosen’s essay today concerns, among other things, an idea of what constitutes good coverage.