I am a huge fan of Bill Moyers and his show on public television, Moyers & Company. A recent episode featuring Chris Hedges, co-author of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt hit me hard, specifically as Hedges talks about the difference between pursuing news and the truth:
BILL MOYERS: But do you think taking sides marginalizes your journalism? I mean, when you were being arrested, and some businessman was quoted in the paper passing by and looking at those of you being carried away and said, “Bunch of idiots.” He needs to hear what you, read what you say. Do you think he will once he knows you’ve taken sides?
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, I think that in life we always have to take sides.
BILL MOYERS: Do journalists always have to take sides?
CHRIS HEDGES: Yes. Journalists always do take sides. You know, you’ve been a journalist a long time. The idea that there’s something objective and impartial is just a lie. We sell it. But I can take the same set of facts– I was a newspaper reporter for a long time, and I can spin that story one way or another. We manipulate facts. That’s what we do. And I think that the really great journalists–
BILL MOYERS: Not necessarily to deceive though. Some do, I know, but–
CHRIS HEDGES: Right, but we do.
BILL MOYERS: We choose the facts we want to organize–
CHRIS HEDGES: Of course, it’s selective. And it’s what facts we choose, how we place, where we put the quotes. And I think the really great journalists, like the great preachers, care fundamentally about truth. And truth and news are not the same thing.
And the really great reporters, and I’ve seen them, you know, in all sorts of news organizations, are management headaches because they care about truth at the expense of their own career.
What I love about Hedges’ comment is that there is something greater than our careers. An essential statement about the value and integrity of human life, and the impact that truth has in maintaining our individual and collective freedoms.
Take some time out of your day and watch the entire interview and be challenged.