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Bon Journal

Comfort the afflicted

and afflict the comfortable...

That's the job of journalists, says my line editor.

Earlier, another veteran editor had painted journalism as a parasitic profession. He said, "You're always bothering someone, asking the person to stop what he's paid to do and to talk to you."

The seasoned journalist is far from an idealist. Skeptical about everything, he is a self-proclaimed cynic.

True journalists are neutral and independent. They have nothing to sell but the content of the stuff they write. In this sense, what they write is more credible to the reader who knows that the journalist owns no stake. In contrast, even academics have ulterior motives - they are out to prove they know something and that they are experts in their field. Consultants are out to get their next assignment. Vendors have something to sell.

Journalists walk the middle road, ensuring that all sides of the equation are addressed. They're the ones that ask questions nobody else would ask or answer. In comforting the afflicted, they tell it like it is. In afflicting the comfortable, they keep them on their toes.

20 December 2001 Thursday

line editor
someone who rewrites copy, also known as the rewrite editor; ensures the story hangs together; reads the article as if he's the reader; article should not raise any questions it does not answer
copy editor
ensures no typos, no spelling errors, no inconsistent format and styles