The good, the bad, and the ugly

Yang Jisheng, author of a book on the devastating four-year-long Great Famine of China, was named for the Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. His acceptance speech is one every journalist needs to print out and keep in their pockets, like a talisman. A brief tasting clip below, but please read the full thing:

The Nieman fellows are all distinguished journalists. I fervently love the profession of journalism. After more than forty years of being tempered in this position, and based on my experience and observation, this is how I evaluate journalism as a profession:

This is a despicable profession that can confuse right and wrong, reverse black and white, manufacture monstrous falsehoods and dupe an audience of millions.

This is a noble profession that can point out the ills of our times, uncover the darkness, castigate evil, advocate for the people and take on the responsibility of social conscience.

This is a banal profession that evades conflict, ignores questions of right or wrong, plays it safe and willingly serves as a mouthpiece of the powerful.

This is a sacred profession that cherishes all under heaven, contemplates eternal questions, criticizes the political situation, monitors the government, communicates with society and makes the news media the Fourth Estate.

This is a shallow profession that anyone can take on, requiring only the ability to write a coherent narrative and a minimum of knowledge, demanding no brilliant insights but only obedience and submission.


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