One of the more troublesome contradictions of journalism, suggests D. Patrick Miller, is that reporters generally aren’t as truthful as they want everyone else to be. This leads to betrayal, distortion, and an undermining of public trust.

As an ex-newspaper reporter myself, I know that much of what he says is true. There’s no question that journalists would benefit from spending more time questioning themselves. Yet I also know, as Ben Bagdikian put it, that trying to be a first-rate reporter for the average newspaper is like “trying to play Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on a ukelele. The instrument is too crude for the work, for the audience, for the performer.”