What’s with this editorial independence anyway?

The task of maintaining journalistic freedom from commercial or other vested interests is as ancient as the printing presses that first made the sharing of news a mass market medium. But in an increasingly global digital world, cultural differences combined with economic and political pressures are making these age-old challenges harder and harder to navigate.

I’m not sure that I really get it.

The whole idea of editorial independence seems to me as being just a coded form of “thank for your money now fuck off, we’ll do what we want”.

20 thoughts on “What’s with this editorial independence anyway?”

  1. It’s bullshit; the journalists’ conceit that they are purveyors of truth on behalf of the thronging masses, rather than being just hired writers, which they are.

  2. I thought it meant giving as much airtime to the proprietor’s irrational or shamelessly self- serving hobby horses as you can without annoying the advertisers. Or maybe the other way round.

  3. I’m struggling to think of any organisation that wouldn’t have a party line. The members of a Sunday league soccer club might be expected to have consistent views on promotion and relegation, for example.

  4. Walter Block covers this in the “academic freedom” chapter of his “Defending the Undefendable”.

    As he points out, what is the deference between academic or editorial freedom and “waiters freedom”? Should not waiters have the freedom to bring you, not the meal you have asked –and are paying– for but the meal he thinks would be best for you?

    Say the female hired me to write a replacement column (after they saved money by sacking Pol and/or Monbigot–as they should at my rate of £80 thou a year to write both columns, cheap at twice the price). I write the pieces but they are unfailing hymns of praise to individual freedom, free markets and high technology. Leavened with blazing hatred of the state and all cunts who think they should be able to lord it over others.
    Would her attitude to editorial freedom remain the same the I wonder?

  5. Mr Ecks has a point. There’s always a tension between workers who take pride in their work versus managers/owners who insist on screwing their customers for every penny possible. This is not exclusive to journalism. Your McDonalds chef would love to cook a proper hamburger with thick, high-quality meat; but his manager says no, use as little meat as possible and lots of filler. Just like journalism.

  6. @AndrewM:

    Err, no. It’d not about pride in one’s job, it’s about doing the job one’s paid to do, not the job you think you should be being paid to do. The aspirations of the cordon bleu wannabe in McDonalds are somewhat irrelevant when they are being paid to churn out Big Macs. It’s possible to take pride in doing that well, and McDs are actually pretty good at recognising people who do that.

  7. No I’m Jeremy Corbyne.

    Its the extra e that gives the clue.

    When I take over ZaNu and inevitably the country the question is what traditional socialist fate should befall Arnie?

    Should he be shot in the back of the head? Traditional AND proven en masse. But the shot could easily miss his brain.

    Worked to death swinging a pick in/on Siberian mines or railways while enjoying 600 calories a day of fish soup (with eyes) and boiled grass? Arnald?–swinging his dick would prob be the most he could manage.

    Fed feet first into a furnace an inch at a time–like that spy bloke? With Arnie’s bromhidrosis problem? There’d be an explosion.

    I suppose it doesn’t matter. The main thing is that with socialism calling the shots Arnie won’t have to die alone.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    Mr E @ 11:53

    I think you’ve missed the point.

    The editorial board, or equivalent, who don’t have any money at stake, expect to be able to decide what gets printed and the political slant that should be take free from interference from the owner, who does have money at stake.

    The journalist is the PBI who should do as he’s effing told and paid to do.

  9. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Journalists think that their job is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted and the owners think that their job is to write enough filler to stop the classified ads from running into each other. One of these groups is deluding itself.

  10. “editorial independence”means that you can write articles about Lord Sewer without mentioning that He’s a Labour man. That’s all.

  11. Andrew M,

    “Your McDonalds chef would love to cook a proper hamburger with thick, high-quality meat; but his manager says no, use as little meat as possible and lots of filler. Just like journalism.”

    Plenty of meat in a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

  12. “And you’re still Murphy’s stool pigeon. So where does that leave us?”

    Costa Rica?

    Or hiding in a bush until the apocalypse, with Mr Zed.

    Still doesn’t make me wrong about the striking similarities between Mr Rs and So Much Fucking Shite, when she gives up trying to affect the Ex lunacy.

  13. Arnald: It shows, Whispering Grass, your fantastic level of knowledge and discrimination –which lead you to be a bone-deep supporter of the rottenest and most evil “philosophy” (for want of a better word) of all time.

    The only thing that makes you wrong Arnie–about everything –is you.

  14. If only the victims of socialism still were.

    Never mind Arnie–your ego is obviously much more important than human life.

  15. Arnald, at the risk of repeating my self. please fuck off back to Comment Macht Frei you evil moron.

  16. Johnno

    I didn’t notice the first time (much like your first girlfriend), and I’m not paying attention now, so take your handbag and piss in it.

    Also I don’t comment at the Guardian and I’m neither evil nor a moron.

    Anything else I can help you with? Shoelaces?

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