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“The Enemies of the State”: The New York Times and The Fluidity of Advocacy Journalism

“The Enemies of the State”: The New York Times and The Fluidity of Advocacy Journalism

We have been discussing the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools. The New York Times has been at the forefront of this shift away from traditional reporting but has increasingly found that the fluidity of advocacy journalism leaves it without any clear framework or standards. Consider the latest scandal at the Times. Justice Department reporter and MSNBC contributor Katie Benner went on a rave about Republicans and called Trump supporters “enemies of the state.” She also made a not-so-veiled call for readers to vote against them. The Times has been in total radio silence over what, just a few years ago, would have been viewed as an outrageous violation of journalistic standards. Yet, just recently, it fired another reporter for a comparatively mild tweet supporting Biden. Professional ethics, it seems, has become entirely impressionistic in the age of advocacy journalism.

Notably, many of us denounced Donald Trump for calling the New York Times and other media outlets the “enemy of the people.”  The media was aghast and the Times publicly condemned such rhetoric as “inflammatory.” Now, however, journalists like Benner are engaging in the same inflammatory rhetoric and the Times is conspicuously silent.

We have have been discussing how writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation…

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