Let Us Now Praise Our Clearly Partial Predecessors

Let Us Now Praise Our Clearly Partial Predecessors

by
Abby Zimet

It's good to see the discussion about some key questions in journalism
– what's it about, what are the rules, why bother? – in  the AP's Tom
Curley speech and in Robert Fisk's CD Views piece today. Fisk takes on the
time-honored, ever-absurd myth of journalistic impartiality by citing
some fine writers of the past who dared to care about what they wrote,
and wrote much better for it. I would add to the list: George Orwell's
"Homage to Catalonia," his impassioned report from the Spanish Civil
War; and James Agee's "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," a singularly searing,
poignant portrait of tenant farmers in the South during the Depression
that bears no resemblance whatsoever to traditional journalism, but
wholly fulfills its purpose – to tell the truth, and make us care.  

 

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