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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