How? And why?

From journalism scholar James Carey, as relayed by Roy Peter Clark in the wake of Las Vegas:

“How and why are the most problematic aspects of American journalism: the dark continent and invisible landscape. Why and how are what we most want to get out of the news story and are least likely to receive or what we must in most cases supply ourselves. Both largely elude and must elude the conventions of daily journalism, as they elude, incidentally, art and science. Our interest in ‘what’s new,’ ‘what’s happening,’ is not merely cognitive and aesthetic. We want more than facts pleasingly arranged. We also want to know how to feel about events and what, if anything, to do about them. If they occur by luck or blind chance, that is a kind of explanation, too. It tells us to be tragically resigned to them; indeed, luck and chance are the unannounced dummy variables of journalistic thought, as they are of common senses. We need not only to know but to understand, not only to grasp but to take an attitude toward the events and personalities that pass before us. But to have an understanding or an attitude depends upon depth in the news story. Why and how attempt to supply this depth, even if honored every day largely in the breach.”

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