Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Joan Didion in Slouching towards Bethlehem

My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is the last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.
Writers are always selling somebody out. It is the perverse nature of journalism that the people sold out are more often the relatively innocent and guileless. They are the sources most liable to blurt out something embarrassing when they are on the record. The cagey, experienced operator knows how to manipulate the rules to their advantage. They feed the reporters and the reporters protect them (just as they protected John DeLorean.) They know how to set ground rules so that no momentary faux pas shows up in print. They help journalists look good and journalists polish their image in return.

None of which fits that image of the cynical reporter digging for truth without fear or favor.

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