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.