Wednesday, June 28, 2006

JOURNALISM & CITIZENSHIP -- In the wake of the NYT disclosure of the financial data surveillance program, Armed Liberal has an interesting discussion of the tension between a journalist's professional duties and civic responsibilities. See also Instapundit. But the most interesting comment was this:

I think, in simple terms, that they have forgotten that they are citizens, and that they have an obligation to the polity that goes beyond writing the good story. I don't think they are alone; I think that many people and institutions in the country today have forgotten they are citizens, whether they are poor residents of New Orleans defrauding FEMA or corporate chieftains who are maximizing their bonuses at the expense of a healthy economy.

But that's another blog post.
Of course, that's the blog post that needs to be written. The point about journalism and citizenship is important, but the broader issue of citizenship is even more important because it has so much to do with the complex issues of the day. A deeply-felt individual notion of positive citizenship (whether it be duty to family, workplace, community, or country) is a significant deterrent to fraud and corruption of all stripes. Perhaps implicit here is the idea that publishing a story that directly endangers fellow citizens' lives, which is the hypothetical scenario Armed Liberal discusses, can be construed as a type of corruption of journalism.