Pierre who? Yeah, I know. So I read this very nice (and SHORT) piece written by the always excellent Katha Pollitt on the occasion of Bourdieu’s death in 2002.
While reading Bourdieu’s (also very SHORT) book On Television, I can’t help but marvel at how the Internet is hardly even mentioned (I think he might have said “information superhighway” once). Yet much of what he said then (in 1998) is very relevant to today’s journalism online, as well as on television and in print. (I’m thinking of the so-called A-List bloggers in particular.)
It’s the kind of criticism that makes journalists’ hackles stand up. He calls us “anti-intellectual,” after all — and to most journalists, that sounds like he’s saying we are stupid brutes. Bourdieu isn’t saying that, in fact. I’m quite sure he isn’t.
But he is saying that we — both journalists and journalism educators — are products of our field, the journalism field. We are acculturated just as biologists are acculturated in their field, and politicians in theirs. Come on, can you really argue that that is not true? How could we offer courses in journalism ethics if that were not true?
I’m not prepared to expand on this yet (must read more first; e.g., Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field). But I’m thinking about those tried-and-true phrases, “speak truth to power,” and “gatekeeper,” and “watchdog.” I’m thinking about what we say and what we do, and whether those two things are in conflict today. And if so, how much.
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