Waiting Patiently, We Are….

We emailed this note to Editor Chris Johns (with a cc to the entire NGM staff) almost a week ago, but still no response. Hmmm…. Maybe we should follow up with a phone call?

Hi Chris,

Before NGM’s March issue hits the newsstand, I wanted to share this Letter to the Editor with you & the staff.

It’s about your Editor’s Note in the February issue, in which you claim that you’re upholding NGM’s 120-year tradition of publishing “an unbiased presentation of facts.”

My letter is actually a two-part blog post, which you can read here and here. If you’d consider publishing a version of this in NGM, I’d be happy to edit it down to a more appropriate length.

In any case, I’d welcome your comments, especially in response to the compelling arguments made by Chris Hedges, David Weinberger, and Steve Buttry. They seem profoundly skeptical of any journalist who claims to be “unbiased.”

• Chris Hedges (former reporter for The New York Times and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize):  “…This vaunted lack of bias, enforced by bloodless hierarchies of bureaucrats, is the disease of American journalism.”

• David Weinberger (a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University): “… Objectivity without transparency increasingly will look like arrogance. And then foolishness. Why should we trust what one person — with the best of intentions — insists is true when we instead could have a web of evidence, ideas, and argument?….”

• Steve Buttry (veteran newspaper editor & reporter, and the Director of Community Engagement for a new digital news operation here in Washington): “One of journalism’s favorite notions is that we don’t become part of the story. We are supposed to be some sort of object (you know, objective) that doesn’t feel, that stays aloof and writes from an omniscient perch above it all. It is a lie, and we need to stop repeating it….”

On a related note: John Fahey is blogging now, which is a great thing. Have you considered starting a blog that’s more than a straight reposting of what’s already in the Magazine? Something that gives us more insight on who you are, how you work, and what you value? For if “transparency is the new objectivity,” then it seems critical to our Society’s future that you begin to pull back the curtain a bit — don’t you think?

Thanks for considering this.

all the best,
Alan

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.