Journalism doesn’t need to go backwards. It needs to get better.

A return to the journalism of Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams would not be good for democracy.

The latest celebrant at the altar of DIY media consumption is the writer Antonio García Martínez. In a piece for Wired.com headlined “Journalism Isn’t Dying. It’s Returning to Its Roots,” Martínez observes that the current economic travails of journalism and the accompanying decline of objectivity are simply a reversion to the norm — that partisan, financially perilous propagandizing would be far more recognizable to founders such as Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams than the establishment press that dominated American society during the second half of the 20th century.

This is all true, but it is also beside the point. We’ve lost a lot. At its best, the mainstream press held (and still holds) government and other large institutions to account in a fair and unbiased manner. If we lose that entirely, then we’ll lose one of our most fundamental tools for governing ourselves.

Read the rest at WGBHNews.org. And talk about this post on Facebook.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident

Joseph Warren dying at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Painting by John Trumbull.
Joseph Warren dying at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Painting by John Trumbull.

One of my favorite Fourth of July traditions is reading the Declaration of Independence in The Boston Globe. It’s moved from print to the iPad, but the words ring just as clearly today as they did 237 years ago. (Believe it or not, the Declaration is behind the Globe’s paywall, but you can also read it here and in many other places.)

Every year I get something new out of it. I’m almost done with the audio version of Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Bunker Hill,” which — among many other things — documents the extent to which Boston’s Patriots put their faith in King George III while directing their wrath at his ministers.

Much changed between the Battle of Bunker Hill and the gathering in Philadelphia a year later. The Declaration includes a long bill of particulars against the king, preceded by this:

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

My reading of Philbrick is that the political bonds between Britain and the Colonies had essentially been severed long before Samuel Adams began agitating — but the emotional bonds, as embodied by the king, took a lot longer to break.

Happy Fourth!