Sunday, May 25, 2008
MEDIA: The op-ed – a diminishing art? cont ...
Here’s some more stuff about the art and science of writing op-eds. It’s based on notes I took from a recent session at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
 It will be an enormous tragedy when op-ed writers are regarded as traitors because of their criticism of governments. Criticism, if not downright cynicism, is necessary if newspaper writers (both reporters and columnists) are to perform their role properly. There is nothing unpatriotic about expressing a critical view on government policy, including a wartime policy.
 David Reiff claimed that the American media after 9/11 were no less uncritical than they were during previous wars.
 It’s a fact that the New York Times once hired a reporter who was a friend of the Bush administration. That decision turned out to be a disaster for both parties.
 John Gray answered Dave Reiff’s claim about wartime comment. He said that censorship during all previous wars was institutional in that newspapers were required by law to be censored. However, the difference in the post-9/11 environment was that newspapers engaged in self-censorship.
 Irony and satire presuppose common historical memories. It is much harder to do satire when the common memory is segmented as it is now.
 Some would argue that cynicism is a toxic form of self-censorship. Is this really the case? Or is credulity the real enemy? Or is it allowing one’s self to be too influenced by a feel-good factor?
Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf
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