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The Collapse of Journalism/The Journalism of Collapse: New Storytelling and a New Story

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But others have faced similar challenges. Looking to the tradition in the Hebrew Bible, the prophets condemned corrupt leaders and also called out all those privileged people in society who had turned from the demands of justice, which the faith makes central to human life. In his analysis of these prophets, the scholar and activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel concluded:

Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible. If we admit that the individual is in some measure conditioned or affected by the spirit of society, an individual's crime discloses society's corruption. In a community not indifferent to suffering, uncompromisingly impatient with cruelty and falsehood, continually concerned for God and every man, crime would be infrequent rather than common.

That phrase, few are guilty but all are responsible, captures the challenge of the journalism of collapse. We can easily identify those powerful figures guilty of specific crimes. Who is guilty in perpetrating the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq? That's easy -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice. Who is guilty in the bailout of Wall Street and the big banks: That's easy, too -- Bush and Obama, Paulsen and Geithner, Bernanke and the boys. One task of journalists is to pursue the guilty, perhaps with a bit more fervor than contemporary U.S. news media; our journalists are too polite in handling war criminals and servants of the wealthy.

But when we look at the fragile state of the world, in some sense our future depends on recognizing that we all are responsible, depending on our status in society and resources available to us. Those of us in affluent sectors of society have the most to answer for, and the task of journalists is to raise questions uncomfortable for us all. This will rarely make journalists popular, but that also is not new. In each of the four Gospels, Jesus reminds us: "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." (Mark 6:4)

Since journalism has never really been an honorable profession, perhaps that makes us the perfect candidates for raising our voices prophetically.

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Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. His latest book, All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, was published in 2009 (more...)

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Our self-appointed overlords within the shadow gov... by Michael McCoy on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 11:10:13 AM
A well crafted novella of fine socialistic ideals ... by HarveyY on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 11:11:39 AM
Beautifully spoken, professor.You and OpEdNews are... by martinweiss on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 11:16:03 AM
As another aging man who lived through the post WW... by Michael Wells on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 12:05:44 PM
I have no sympathy for your profession or the lost... by Paul from Potomac on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 12:30:49 PM
Back in the Reagan years, the merger frenzie, was ... by marko polo on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 1:10:39 PM
The time has long been a reality that if we seek o... by William Cormier on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 1:16:29 PM
Mr. Cormier, you are as erudite as Mr. Jensen. You... by boomerang on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 11:32:35 PM
Who is he that calls culture his own creation?... by Theresa Paulfranz on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 1:21:11 PM
In the late 1800s after a vist to the United State... by Harvey Solomon on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 1:46:33 PM
Good overview, Roberttwo websites of mine you migh... by Kent Welton on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 2:25:40 PM
From your title, Robert, I was expecting some eval... by David Kendall on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 3:53:42 PM
...but let's take another look at that future scen... by kibitzer2 on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 5:53:47 PM
I was born in 1950, so in the late 60's, early 70'... by William Cormier on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 6:35:44 PM
Yes, got it from Heinlein (didn't know about the M... by kibitzer2 on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 7:05:34 PM
Michael Valentine Smith WAS the stranger in a stra... by Roger on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 7:42:50 PM
"Hope you continue to tell it like it is from your... by boomerang on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 11:47:13 PM
Roger: As was my wont at the time (still is, as a ... by kibitzer2 on Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 11:15:39 AM