Like many of you, I imagine, I tuned in to the final episode of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It was kind of bittersweet: I can’t wait to see what Trevor Noah does with the show, but I will — of course — miss Stewart. Of all of the media critics I’ve read, watched, and listened to, Stewart is one of the most notable; I regard him as an influence on the way I approach many of the topics I write about here.
Stewart’s final bit was a wonderful speech on the different kinds of bullshit people should be able to recognize (not-safe-for-work language, obviously). And, in a similar vein, Caitlin PenzeyMoog, of the A/V Club, argues that news needs more smart analysis:
[Objectivity] — or the quest to be objective — renders journalists toothless. Boiled down, a journalist’s job is to call bullshit — on those in power, on institutions, on agendas. And it gets a whole lot harder to call bullshit when you can’t actually say it out loud. There are examples of journalists doing this, but they are the few outsiders in a sea of people who don’t ask hard questions or push politicians for fear of coming off as biased.
There is an uncomfortably narrow line between pushing an agenda and asking the right questions, but news media needs to do vastly more of the latter. People and organizations of power should respect a journalists’ ability to hold their feet to the fire, and those in power should be able to survive that because they’re doing the right thing. Without that, any interaction with the press is merely publicity and marketing, and any competent journalist aspires for more.