Chicago Reader press critic Michael Miner says his late brother-in-law John McIlwraith‘s NPR commentaries — heard on “All Things Considered” between 1990 and 2001 — “were as faithful to the facts as they needed to be” but “I never supposed these stories were entirely true.”
Kind of like David Sedaris’s?
Miner says of the brouhaha over Sedaris’s essays:
I suggest that journalism’s increased vehemence about drawing and enforcing such lines, even against narrators like Sedaris who don’t claim to be journalists, reflects serious insecurity. Truth is in short supply. The public seems to expect it less, demand it less, and value it less. Throw out the most blatant nonsense these days and people who would like it to be true will tell themselves that it might be true and soon be certain it is. Yet whenever journalists make a mistake, everyone jumps all over us. So journalism — self-righteously, petulantly, and feeling more than a little sorry for itself — makes a show of policing its ranks.
Back to McIlwraith: His editor at NPR was Margaret Low Smith — now the radio network’s senior vice president for news — “and she was interested only in time constraints and the quality of the writing,” says McIlwraith’s wife. “She did occasionally suggest that she assumed all these commentaries were accurate but she, very wisely, never pushed it.”