I'm going to take this opportunity to address
one of the comments made at the end of the article. In response to Merritt's statements,
the author says:
<it>One issue that I find troubling is the unstated premise to advocacy that might be permissible by public journalism. Would public journalism increase public radio's vulnerability to accusations of bias?</it>
I think this 'accusation of bias' is one of the single biggest factors inhibiting effective journalism today (at least in the U.S.). First of all, it's practically impossible to report without bias. Whatever method of reporting that you use is your bias. If you're just going to print what a person (or what two people) say, without providing any other analysis, then that's your bias. It may be a non-partisan bias, but it's a bias nonetheless.
Unfortunately, it seems that many news organizations have mistaken this non-partisan (or, perhaps more correctly, bi-partisan, since American politcal news coverage usually shows just the Democrat and Republican viewpoints) slant for 'unbiased reporting'. As a result, honest analysis of the news is practically nonexistant except on editorial pages (and is fairly rare there). If you read front page political stories, it seems like they all consist of assertions made by one party, followed up by reactions from the other. There are also usually some background facts, and maybe an 'expert' opinion (or two, one for each side), but that's about it. There's almost never any examination of the evidence against what's being said. I can't help but think that, if a front page story said that a major politician claimed that the sky is green, the only counterclaim in the article would be a politician from the opposing party claiming that it's blue.
I take from Merritt's statements about 'public journalism' a call to treat journalism as an attempt to report the truth as the journalists find it. If the truth as it is (as objectively as possible) discovered is blatantly in favor of a particular viewpoint, then journalists should not be afraid to report it as such. This is not being partisan--it's simply being honest.