These paragraphs are pulled from the introduction of the draft of my thesis. The best way to attack the thesis is to challenge this section and the larger argument of which it’s a part, and of which I’ll continue posting drafts. References here. (About the thesis)
Journalists are fond of telling audiences why it’s necessary that journalists produce journalism. Journalists are also fond of telling audiences why it’s important that audiences consume journalism or, lately, from some quarters, that audiences produce journalism themselves (for example, Beckett, 2008; but see Pitts Jr., 2010).
Journalists are less fond of telling audiences when the audiences have consumed a sufficient amount of journalism, or when the journalism on offer simply isn’t worth consuming. But journalists must have answers to these questions. Their answers need not be dichotomous, yes-no, but journalists must have a point at which they would concede that their profession’s output is of such poor quality that the audience would generally be better off doing something else. Otherwise, journalists are stuck in an absolutist, intellectually dishonest position of saying that anything called “journalism” is always valuable.
The success of this thesis can, then, be judged in part by whether it accomplishes two goals. One, suggesting a measure along which journalism’s quality can be said to pass the low point of no return, as it were. The suggested measure is based in the attention given to reasoning and evidence by argumentation and informal logic. Two, testing the measure on the apex of respect in American journalism: Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting.