01 March 2007

Wealth and Critical Thinking at Google

In Part 2 of Lowell Bergman's Frontline documentary on the media in America, he interviewed Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. Picture a person half-smiling throughout the interview, even when asked questions that could affect Google's own future. Google does not produce news, but it is affected by journalists and what is said about it. Fair and thorough investigative journalism will be needed to cover stories about Google's actions in China, or its tricky partnership with libraries, which some view as threatening to copyright owners.

When journalism questions its own professionalism, it's healthy. It will clarify and perhaps expand the profession in useful ways. When a wealthy industrialist -- let's call this man what he is, not a cult figure -- cavalierly dismisses questions about whether it's significant that web media has practically no full time reporters, he's not defending democratic openness and citizen participation. He's making the case for a fox running the henhouse.

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