Journalism Described by a Journalist

From The Paris Review - Spring 2011

Janet Malcolm has written many books of non-fiction and magazine articles since her publishing debut in The New Yorker in 1963. Yet for all the volume of her output (and its quality), her largest claim to fame still probably rests on one 26-word sentence she wrote more than 20 years ago. The sentence reads: “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.” That declaration, found on the first page of her book The Journalist and the Murderer, was a lightning rod for debate back then and truism though it may be, it’s lost none of its power to provoke since.