I want to wander just slightly from faith matters today to point you to a fascinating article about journalism — but also about religion.
It’s called “Journalism: Power without responsibility” by Kenneth Minogue. Minogue is a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His book Concept of a University has just been republished by Transaction Publishers with a new introduction.
His essay on journalism was published in The New Criterion magazine, of which I had heard but which I had never read. More about the publication in a minute.
Minogue says journalism relentlessly responds to the old Roman question, What’s new? So, in the end, “journalism is the cultivation of concern for things that are for the most part remote from us.” (This sounds like the criticism of journalism I leveled at it in a graduation speech to the 1994 class of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, my alma mater. That was the class that included one of my daughters.)
Minogue says the “basic contrast (of journalism) is with religion, which is concerned with rituals and sermons revolving around beliefs about our eternal situation. Kierkegaard mistrusted journalism because he thought it would feed our love of the ephemeral, and he was no doubt right about this.”
Well, I encourage you to read what Minogue has to say (but warn you that it is 12 and a half pages of single-space type when printed out) and to tell me whether you think he’s on to something. I don’t buy all he says, but it’s well worth the read.
By the way, here, from the New Criterion Web site, is what the publication says, immodestly, about itself:
“The New Criterion, founded in 1982 by the art critic Hilton Kramer and the pianist and music critic Samuel Lipman, is a monthly review of the arts and intellectual life. Written with great verve, clarity, and wit, The New Criterion has emerged as America's foremost voice of critical dissent in the culture wars now raging throughout the Western world. A staunch defender of the values of high culture, The New Criterion is also an articulate scourge of artistic mediocrity and intellectual mendacity wherever they are found: in the universities, the art galleries, the media, the concert halls, the theater, and elsewhere. Published monthly from September through June, The New Criterion brings together a wide range of young and established critics whose common aim is to bring you the most incisive criticism being written today."
See my "About" page to find out how to read online what I've written for The Kansas City Star.