Great words change the world. Great poems and prose have had a lasting impact. But what about journalism? The words of the fourth estate can change the world. It can be a noble enterprise. It can also be a for profit business that isn't always so noble. Either way it represents one of the most powerful uses of language.
Two articles caught my eye on journalism. Two articles on completely different aspects of journalism they somehow manage to remind me how powerful stories, ideas, and words can be.
You'll never mistake the words used by the National Enquirer as belonging to any other publication. Given a few minutes I'm sure you could write up a headline or two that could only come from that tabloid. It has a rhythm and style of its own. It also seems to operate in a world of its own. A world of scandals and the most outrageous stories.
It's hard to believe that it was in the running for a Pulitzer prize. In All The Dirt That's Fit To Print Alex Pappademas tells of the story that was up for the Pulitzer, the particular culture of the Enquirer, and gives us a little bit of history along the way.
The second story is about television news. Or more importantly about a particular television news channel. The Most Hated Name in News by Deborah Campbell is about Al Jazeera English (AJE). The main angle of the story is about Tony Burman. A Canadian with impecable journalistic credentials has moved from the CBC to AJE. The man who not only broke the story of the Ethiopian famine to North American audiences but also helped put a face on the famine with some truly unforgettable images.
Whether written in a tabloid or spoken on a 24 hour news channel some of the most important words of our time are the words of journalists. For every politician, for every press release, for every great work of fiction, for every poem or song, for every bit of satire and parody, and for every bit of spin we should be lucky enough to have good journalists putting out their own powerful words.