Beyond Trust…

November 29, 2008

Fathers and SonsA new book, Bey­ond Trust picks up some of the issues raised in Can You Trust The Media?

Here’s Kev­in Marsh, sid­ing with Andrew Gil­ligan, in view­ing the book as nihil­ist­ic:

Journalism’s jour­ney – in Pro­fess­or Larry Sabato’s (1991) descrip­tion – from ‘lap­dog, through watch­dog to junk­yard dog’ with all that entails in loss of pub­lic trust is, in part at least, legit­im­ised by a strand of aca­dem­ic think­ing. Pro­fess­or Adri­an Mon­ck of City Uni­ver­sity Lon­don, con­cluded in his book Can You Trust The Media? (2008) that we were mis­guided even to think that we should.

His some­what nihil­ist­ic view can be boiled down to this (and I con­cede I’m cari­ca­tur­ing rather than char­ac­ter­ising – but it’s not a mil­lion miles off, trust me): trust is a decep­tion; we don’t need to trust journ­al­ists – in fact, we don’t need them at all but if they insist on hanging around, let’s see them as no more than the atten­tion seek­ing storytellers they are. Trust doesn’t come into it.

We journ­al­ism edu­cat­ors who think trust does mat­ter – how can we trust any­thing about the world if we can’t trust the media through which we learn about it? – inev­it­ably ask ourselves, then, how long can any les­son in trust stick when the pre­vail­ing mind­set in news­room after news­room doesn’t just fall short
of the ideal, it denies such an ideal even exists?

Accus­a­tions of nihil­ism always bring to mind one of the favour­ite nov­els of my teen­age years (that just happened to be when I first read it), Turgenev’s Fath­ers and Sons.

Turgenev ‘pop­ular­ised’ nihil­ism, which actu­ally had rad­ic­al and edu­ca­tion­al ele­ments. And isn’t there a bit of Baz­arov in every journ­al­ist?

A nihil­ist is a man who does not bow to any author­it­ies, who does not take any prin­ciple on trust, no mat­ter with what respect that prin­ciple is sur­roun­ded.

Try it. You might like it.

++UPDATE++

Kevin’s response.

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