Activist goes from journalism to the ACLU

posted at 5:35 pm on January 14, 2008 by Bryan

The Fort Worth Startlegram’s reporting on this microcosmic story of the problem with “journalism” as it’s often practiced today is refreshingly frank.

Terri Burke, former editor of the Abilene Reporter-News, has been named executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

Burke, 56, will begin work at the ACLU of Texas on Tuesday. Her duties will include lobbying, fundraising, administering the organization and communicating with the public.

Burke said her new job seems like a continuation of her work in the newspaper business.

“I wanted to be a journalist because I thought journalism was a way to further the democratic process,” Burke said. “At its heart, journalism is about the First Amendment. All my life, I’ve been interested in those kinds of issues.”

Journalism isn’t supposed to be a political activity, except in that in being a journalist you’re exercising the right of free speech and freedom of the press. Journalism is supposed to be an unbiased pursuit of the facts and an effort to render them fairly. By seeing journalism as a means to “further the democratic process,” Burke saw her previous vocation as a political activity.

And that she went straight from editing a newspaper to heading up the state ACLU just makes a more honest person out of her. If there’s irony to be found here, it’s in the fact that the ACLU often uses the courts not to further the democratic process, but to destroy it.

(h/t MR)


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The government/media presscorp/NEA complex triangle

William Amos on January 14, 2008 at 5:39 PM

Burke said her new job seems like a continuation of her work in the newspaper business.

Summs it up perfectly.

Entelechy on January 14, 2008 at 5:40 PM

Burke said her new job seems like a continuation of her work in the newspaper business

Journalism, Advocacy, eh, what’s the difference, right?

trubble on January 14, 2008 at 5:41 PM

Burke said her new job seems like a continuation of her work in the newspaper business.

That statement is dripping with irony. There are so many ways we could interpret, and they’re all probably correct.

fourstringfuror on January 14, 2008 at 5:41 PM

“At its heart, journalism is about the First Amendment. All my life, I’ve been interested in those kinds of issues.”

No she’s not. She’s primarily interested in subverting other peoples views.

CABE on January 14, 2008 at 5:42 PM

You two are reading my mind.

fourstringfuror on January 14, 2008 at 5:42 PM

WHAT???!!!!! WEEE BIASED?????!!!!

/U.S. Newspapers

Hawkins1701 on January 14, 2008 at 5:43 PM

You two are reading my mind.

fourstringfuror on January 14, 2008 at 5:42 PM

It’s an obvious money quote. I almost fell out of my chair. It’s as if Al Gore came out and said “Of course I’m a hypocrit, I just do this nonsense for the money and adulation” She has no idea she was just way too honest and divulged how biased she’s been.

trubble on January 14, 2008 at 5:45 PM

ha, finally some truth from a journalist.

jdsmith0021 on January 14, 2008 at 5:47 PM

oops I meant activist!

jdsmith0021 on January 14, 2008 at 5:47 PM

What?? We have an ACLU office here in TEXAS??

Rick on January 14, 2008 at 5:56 PM

A merica’s
C ommunist
L awyers
U nion

Texas Chapter

Nuff said.

FloridaBill on January 14, 2008 at 6:01 PM

What?? We have an ACLU office here in TEXAS??

Rick on January 14, 2008 at 5:56 PM

The ACLU just helped with a nursing mothers’ suck-in at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock. I guess they are everywhere.

llano on January 14, 2008 at 6:05 PM

If the print industry is wondering why their audience is abandoning them in droves, here’s the perfect explanation.

Zorro on January 14, 2008 at 6:11 PM

You know how politicians resign saying they want to spend more time with their family? This is probably just a fig leaf. She knows newspapers are doomed. And she knows the ACLU’s checks don’t bounce. And, being a liberal, she needs to feel that what she’s doing is for the sake of the poor and oppressed. I think it’s ill advised to precipitously accuse a reporter of honesty.

snaggletoothie on January 14, 2008 at 6:28 PM

Ahem, no, Journalism is more about opinion, and has been going that way for quite a while. Reporters are few and far between.

Canadian Imperialist Running Dog on January 14, 2008 at 6:30 PM

it’s in the fact that the ACLU often uses the courts not to further the democratic process, but to destroy it.

First GOP candidate that charges the ACLU with sin, wins.

Before Terri Burke just tried to influence activist Judges, now she can cavort with them directly.

Speakup on January 14, 2008 at 6:36 PM

Selective journalist seems like a perfect fit in the ACLU.

oakpack on January 14, 2008 at 7:49 PM

By seeing journalism as a means to “further the democratic process,” Burke saw her previous vocation as a political activity.

Regardless of what you think of the quality of the implementation, the theory of a free press exercising First Amendment rights by pursuing and reporting facts is a furtherance of the democratic process. Informing the electorate furthers the process. You’re looking for a gotcha where there is none.

Hubris on January 14, 2008 at 8:18 PM