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March 20, 2007

Lindsay Beyerstein to give Richardson lecture at Gettysburg College

I will be giving one of the Norman E. Richardson lectures at Gettysburg College on March 28:

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Lindsay Beyerstein, blogger and photojournalist, will speak on "Objectivity, Professionalism, and Reporting - Methodological Reflections from an Accidental Journalist" March 28 as part of the Norman E. Richardson Lecture series. The event is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Weidensall Hall, Room 302, and is free and open to the public.

I'm honored that Steve Gimbel and his colleagues have invited me to speak at their university. I hope some of our Pennsylvania readers can join us for the event.

The talk is about how my philosophical training and my blog-based reporting influence my approach to journalism. Most reporters don't think about their professional norms as applied epistemology, but that's by and large what they are. Likewise most of the familiar critiques of journalists by bloggers, and bloggers by journalists are based on assumptions about epistemology.

Like many bloggers, I think that the dispassion and disengagement that mainstream journalists call "objectivity" is neither especially objective nor especially conducive to accurate or informative news. However, when I started doing actual reporting, I noticed that it can be very useful to slip into the socially accepted role of the objective journalist, but not for the reasons they say in the textbooks.

I'm still writing the paper. Maybe I'll be able to post a draft online later this week.


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Congrats, Lindsay. Looking forward to your draft.

Wow. Every once in a while something that actually makes sense happens, as your being invited to give this talk.

[sniff] They grow up so fast...

From my seat back here in blogosphere steerage class, it looks to be an entirely deserved honor. There is much to be angry about , especially around issues of being lied to by ommissions in MSM. Bloggers are vital. But in their anger, they dance close to the edge over which the O'Reilly's and Limbaugh's of the world have lept. Consistently in your posting, Lindsay, you walk up to that edge, point it out to us, give sometimes unsual perspective and walk away from the hyperbole that others rely on to feel like they have communicated.

Seriously, you are one of the better ones in this business.

Aw, crap, I messed up the HTML somehow and forgot to preview. I doubt I can fix it myself. Sorry about that.

Lindsay, is there any chance your lecture will be recorded for podcast?

You will do great!

If ever you take your show on the road to Syracuse, I'll be there. I will be the one in the front row smiling and nodding and applauding (a little too loudly at times) and probably not understanding a word you are saying but feeling proud that someone so damn smart is on my team, politically speaking, so to speak. Kind of makes me smart by association, I think.

Gettysburg is the kind of school where a talk like this one will have a real impact on some smart young folks.

While you're there, don't miss the vast number of monuments scattered around, ranging from the sublime to the hideous. It's a living museum of late nineteenth century monumental art rendered in styles ranging from classical allusion potpourri to the less talented forebearers of the Velvet Elvis school.

Sweet! As a philosopher, I am unduly impressed by people getting to give talks to which some kind of endowment-related name is attached.

Those are some hoary subjects.

Congratulations are definitely in order. Wow, you're really turning into a celebrity. You should probably get a security entourage. Have you thought about hiring Hair-Trigger Billy Beck?

Excellent! Frustrating, that your talk will be tolerably near my home, but I will be 50 miles further south of my home in DC "on the clock" then.

Gettysburg is 12 miles or so above the Maryland line. They say that in the 1950s, when copters lifted off at Camp David 20 miles away, President Eisenhower could hear them lift off from his family house at the edge of Gettysburg, now a historic site.

Congrats Lindsay, I don't think you need security. Have fun!

Congrats! Anyone going to video it?

You rock, Lindsay!

please consider this my fund raiser post request for an online publishing of your talk.

Somebody rang?

Lindsay writes: "When I started doing actual reporting, I noticed that it can be very useful to slip into the socially accepted role of the objective journalist, but not for the reasons they say in the textbooks."

I see where you are going, and I like, I like. Spell out the other reasons. Here's my starter list. Objectivity is desirable to journalists because it

* limits their liability
* is a means of persuading people to accept the news account that follows-- a rhetoric that relies on facticity.
* permits them to not deal with certain people, situations and puzzles: an evasion machine, making smooth production possible.

I don't think there is any subject that's given me more fits than the one they asked you to tackle, so... great assignment! And I wish you luck.

Here are some things I wrote that are kinda sorta on point...

Journalism Is Itself a Religion.

The Abyss of Observation Alone

I believe there are hidden moral hazards in the ethic of neutral observation and the belief in a professional “role” that transcends other loyalties. I think there is an abyss to observation alone. And I feel it has something to do with why more people don’t trust journalists. They don’t trust that abyss.

The View from Nowhere.

Congrats, Lindsay!

Hmmm, Jay Rosen reads this blog. Is it journalism yet;?)

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