What should journalism be?

Writing in his weekly Observer column today, John Naughton (see blogroll) reminds us of what appears to be an almost perennial truth: 

‘Political language’, observed George Orwell in his great essay on ‘Politics and the English Language’, ‘is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’ Much the same applies to the output of the public relations industry.

 The he goes on to make an important observation. 

 One of the most important public services (my italics) that mainstream journalism can provide, therefore, consists of decoding PR-speak: translating its half-truths, unsupported assertions and evasions into plain English…..

 Yes, that indeed is what mainstream journalism should be doing, and that is what, for various reasons, not least of which is that journalism and  public relations are seen two sides of the same coin, it all too often fails to do.


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