Some further thought on my previous entry.
I’m not suggesting the creation of a journalist elite class; my thought is that ‘Journalist Citizens’ would be a hybrid between journalists as we understand them now and ombudsmen (think UN special observers). They would be (ideally) distinct from national or editorial demands that might overtly or inadvertently influence the story. This would probably necessitate an independent news agency in Iceland that would act as both a sending agency and repository for the information gathered (it’s just taking the IMMI concept a few steps further than proposed).
This is, of course, idealistic; a special passport is not necessarily going to gain access to a radical madrassa or protect a journalist from harm. However, I think the overall concept has merit both in the present and future. There is a need for neutral observers in our highly polarised and market driven society (and again, I’m speaking from an American perspective noting that there are yet excellent media here and elsewhere). But to look beyond the present, there will be a need for recognised neutral observation fifty or a hundred years in the future. The analogy that comes to mind are the seed banks built to house pure strains of the world’s plant stock. Yes, there is abundant access to these plants now; but the time may come where we need to reference an unaltered seed set aside. We need a ‘seed bank of journalism’ somewhere that is dedicated to the most neutral observation of the present so we can reference and contrast at some point in the future.
Also, I’m not sure this isn’t happening now; obviously responsible journalists and publications rigourously research and then archive their stories; opening another news agency in remote Iceland won’t suddenly plant a beacon of truth superseding previous attempts at journalistic excellence. What it might do is establish a new set of independent benchmarks beyond editorial boundaries set by national and corporate constraints. I don’t want to get overtly cynical about these constraints because there are excellent journalists who work freely under them; however they are there and recognised both within and without. I think the only way to make a distinct separation is to step completely outside the structures into a new and independent agency.
Still mulling on this; thanks to the people who have emailed with comments.