作者：欧达 译 来源：Newyorker 2011-07-27 13:50
We journalists must be puzzling creatures to the rest of the world. We adore “The Front Page” and “Scoop,” which present us as lazy, unprincipled, and hopelessly in thrall to bogus information. Hildy Johnson befriends a murder suspect who’s escaped from jail and hides him inside a rolltop desk in the newsroom, so that nobody else can get an interview with him—great! William Boot gets an exclusive on a coup in the nation of Ishmaelia because the rest of the press pack has left town on some reportorial fools’ errand, and Boot was so hapless that he couldn’t manage to join them—love it!
我们记者应该算是别人看来非常新奇的一群生物了。我喜欢封面和独家新闻，但是这些新闻又证明了我们只是一群无纪律、慵懒和没希望的只专注于一些假信息的人。Hildy John通过把一个刚从监狱里逃出来的杀人犯藏在了旋转桌下面来避免有人会看到他，这还真是个好想法。Willam Boot获得了一次在Ishmaelia的专访，原因竟然是其他记者都跑到城镇外面去办事了， 而Boot这么“倒霉”是因为他没能赶上，这就是人品啊！
But, if journalists enjoy being raffish and self-mocking, what explains our equally powerful inclination (especially in the United States) to bang on portentously about the Founders, the First Amendment, the Fourth Estate, and the people’s right to know? Are journalists lovable rogues or human-rights crusaders? Or people who have granted themselves the right to switch between these two identities on a whim?
One can sense the Murdoch press, now minus one large-circulation outlet but otherwise going strong, descending into self-pity about the phone-hacking scandal, even as its public statements are alternately contrite and defiant. News Corporation belongs to a region of the press that likes to think of itself as sitting comfortably and unpretentiously within the “Front Page”/“Scoop” tradition, in closer touch with public tastes than with establishment ones, and resistant to the self-regard that defines the broadsheet culture. There’s a palpable suspicion, within the corporation, that the outrage over the scandal is a cover for ideological enmity and commercial rivalry.
Is there anything to this not quite openly made argument? The answer is related to two issues that correspond to the two halves of the journalistic soul, the scamp and the saint. The first is whether the phone-hacking scandal represents a notably egregious type of press misbehavior, rather than the usual naughtiness. The second is whether violating ordinary boundaries of decent behavior in search of big stories actually has a redemptive public-interest aspect.
The first question is easy: yes! The phone-hacking case that set off the scandal took place within a newsroom culture (and possibly a company culture) in which technologically abetted intrusions on people’s privacy had become about as commonplace as a reporter’s notebook. It’s also—sorry to sound prissy—not O.K. to bribe police and other public officials to serve as unofficial collaborators. Equally repellent is the Mafia-like ecosystem supporting News of the World-style journalism, in which even the highest politicians feel that they will suffer grave personal consequences if they fail to feed the hungry monster. The charm of the journalists in “The Front Page,” it’s worth remembering, had to do with their functioning, for all their gruff cynicism, as a force for good in society—exposing bribery, not engaging in it, and helping to exonerate the falsely accused, not sullying the innocent.