Accountability, Silences and Journalism

  • Chris Nash


This chapter reprises in summary the argument of the book that journalism is in transition to a mode that requires much more engagement with its intellectual foundations. That transition flows partly from the restructuring of the corporate news media over recent decades as a result of digital technologies, and partly by the move of journalism education into university environments. However, Hans Haacke and Izzy Stone, among others, have demonstrated over the last half-century that the intellectual foundations of journalism are deep and wide, and only await recognition and theorisation by those in the academic guild whose job it is to do so. The chapter then picks up Trouillot’s argument about the production of silences in history to examine the role of journalism in producing or unmasking silences. It accepts Trouillot’s argument that history is produced in the present through the interpretation of evidence from the past and discusses journalism’s role in that process, both in producing facts on the record as historical objects for contemporary and future analysis, and in being an active element in Trouillot’s fourth stage in the production of history – the moment of contemporary significance when publics produce meaningful interpretations of the evidence before them. Assuming that the information in the evidence is accurate in so far as it goes, Trouillot argues that the production of meaning requires an authenticity in contemporary presentation that exists in the present rather than being an intrinsic attribute of the information itself. Authenticity requires an element of accountability to designated publics, and the chapter concludes with consideration of Haacke’s and Stone’s practices in this regard.


Historical Object Tacit Agreement Contemporary Significance German Writer Contemporary Public 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Nash
    • 1
  1. 1.Monash UniversityCaulfield EastAustralia

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