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Access Journalism

 

ACCESS JOURNALISM & SELF CENSORSHIP

Access journalism refers to the compromises journalists must make in order to have access to sources and places that would be denied them, were they to offend those who control access. When Eason Jordan admitted in 2003 at the invasion of Iraq, that CNN had systematically avoided reporting negative things about Sadam for the previous 12 years, in order to be allowed to stay in Iraq, he essentially revealed how deeply CNN had compromised journalistic values for the sake of being able to continue reporting from a given place. The history of Stalinism as reported in the Western press is a classic product of access journalism, closely controlled by Soviet officials.

Access journalism often involves self-censorship, in which the journalists voluntarily ceases to speak of issues that might embarrass their hosts. The problem with access journalism is that at some level every reporter has to play the game… a remorselessly hostile reporter at the White House will not get called on. The question is, how do we define the ethical limits, and how does the public, the consumers of journalistic reports, deal with the inevitable tendency of some reporters to step over the lines, even generously drawn.

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