When pondering the kinds of playlists I could make to give some embodiment to journalism's importance, I decided to just throw together some Rage Against the Machine songs.
You may see this as an indicator of the internal rage that forever brews within my soul, but to that, I would say — yeah, you’re probably right.
However, I don’t see this as a bad thing. Rather, I think it’s a spirit that all journalists should imbue themselves with in the current climate.
Rage Against the Machine is one of the greatest bands to grace the American music scene (DM me on Twitter if you disagree; I won’t respond). The funny thing is that they’ve earned this claim through a consistent stream of music that some might call “anti-American.”
The band burned an American flag at Woodstock ‘99 while performing one of its classics — “Killing in the Name,” a hard-hitting 1991 tune centered around criticisms of police brutality and institutional white supremacy. Rage has used live shows in the past to lead protests outside the national conventions of both the Republican and Democratic parties, and one of the group’s founders — Tom Morello — has been for decades among the music world’s most outspoken critics of the political establishment.
As journalists, we, of course, can’t follow the Rage formula in our own work to a T, because objectivity.
What we can do, though, is always keep the spirit and message of their music in mind when we cover those in power.
History has proven time and time again that journalism can be among the last line of defense against corruption when all other institutional safeguards have faltered or been compromised. And in those moments, when the journalists themselves are wondering how far they can go to do their duty to the public, do you want them listening to Lana Del Ray’s new (and objectively awesome) album?
I say no. I say you want them feeling rebellious, fearless, ready to smash any roadblocks being placed in front of them for the truth. I say you want them raging against the machine.