Journalism’s most idealistic missions are well-known and, despite the sine wave of attacks throughout history and the economic disruptions of the digital age, remain immutable:
Give voice to the voiceless.
Hold power accountable.
Serve the public without fear or favor.
I’m adding another to my list:
Problems that are not seen cannot be addressed.
That statement — simple, clear, unequivocal — comes toward the end of “She Said,” the gripping how-to behind the reporting that exposed a cascade of sexual assault accusations against media mogul Harvey Weinstein. New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey employed old-fashioned practices — methodical reporting, patience and empathy — with new-age methods, a new sensibility and some sheer stubbornness to bring credibility to rumors that had swirled for years. Since the initial story broke, scores of women have come forward with allegations against Weinstein, and hundreds — perhaps thousands — more have joined a global #MeToo movement that challenges an entrenched patriarchy of power.
Critics are hailing “She Said” as the “All the President’s Men” of our times. It may join that and the movie “Spotlight” in a short canon of stories about what it takes to do the kind of journalism that serves our most fundamental purpose.
But what I like about the Kantor-Twohey line is that it speaks so directly to what we can and should do as journalists, which is expose a problem. From there, it is up to greater society and its systems to decide how, or if, to resolve it. I find that a needed touchstone against the slings that accuse journalism of focusing on the darkness.
Yes, we often do. Because how else will it be brought into the light?