On courage and journalism


Writing in his LA Weekly column, Marc Cooper does some soul searching over the murder of investigative reporter Francisco Ortiz Franco of the Tijuana weekly magazine Zeta and the more light-hearted nature of much U.S. journalism. An excerpt:

Let me be quick to note that truly world-class reporting is produced all around this country every day of the week. But there is, nevertheless, to quote what one of the L.A. Times’ more perspicacious editors said to me last week, a certain “moral frivolity” that pervades our profession: Beltway pundits from the right and left who have never done a day’s real reporting, airhead broadcast reporters playing an endless game of “gotcha” with equally vapid elected officials, newsroom phobias over “advocacy” reporting, a New York Times unwilling to name celeb-reporter Judith Miller in its “mini-culpa” over having become Ahmad Chalabi’s primary apple polisher, or L.A. Times chief John Carroll sending out harrumphing memos warning that wacko creationist groups have to be given equal weight with scientists and then publicly bloviating against Fox News for essentially doing the same thing...

I’m not suggesting that U.S. reporters rush into suicide missions with either their intended subjects or their newsroom bosses. But as I write this column I have CNN on in the background, and I hear a promo that refers to Wolf Blitzer as the “iron man of broadcast journalism,” and I just have to wonder when was the last time some American politician spent more than a minute worrying about what would come out of an interview with the bearded Blitzer — if ever.

Ortiz, who made a career of exposing the powerful in Baja, was shot and killed on June 22 as he sat at the wheel of his car, while his two children watched from the back seat.

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