Why Afflicting the Comfortable Is Not Media’s Concern
Should media go out of their way to play nice?
According to Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner, they should. Kushner believes it so strongly that during a staff meeting on March 6, he said he is not in the business of “afflicting the comfortable.” And in an interview with Jim Romenesko, Kushner confirmed his stance: ”I don’t believe that’s the role of newspapers,” he said.
This raises an important question: Should media care about whether they hurt people’s feelings?
No. Not as long as they are telling the truth.
Kushner, a career businessman who was unsuccessful in his bid to buy The Boston Globe in 2012, goes on to say that his stance is a matter of tone. However, it seems more a matter of fairness than affliction. Tone can be conveyed in many ways, but as long as a news report is balanced, it’s hard to effectively argue that it will hurt the feelings of those who appear to be “comfortable.”
As for those doing the “afflicting,” part of being a journalist is having thick skin. Don’t have it, and you’re not likely to last long in this business. With the rise of Twitter as a platform where people can make baseless claims and attack journalists right and left, it’s important to understand that some news consumers are angry, regardless of tone or comfort level. If they don’t agree with something, the journalist is an idiot. If their opinion differs with the media, the media are undoubtedly wrong.
Bottom line is that this is about accuracy. It’s about truth. Kushner’s olive branch to the “comfortable” is admirable, but off base. As a matter of fact, afflicting the comfortable is not media’s concern. News organizations must strive to report things as they happen, and not sugarcoat them.
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