Let Us Now Praise Our Clearly Partial Predecessors

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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