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Not according to some Obama administration voices and rather too many sonorous broadcasters and upmarket commentators. Greenwald, they say, is "an activist" — which means he isn't fair, balanced and suitable for employment by "respected" organisations.

Done Always With God's Spirit

Therefore his work is somehow tainted, so not worth overmuch reaction, sitting somewhere beyond the pale. Enter Jack Shafer, one truly respected media columnist for Reuters: "I'd rather judge a work of journalism directly than run the author's mental drippings through a gas chromatograph to detect whether his molecules hang left, right or cling to the centre.

The point can equally be made about British journalists — from John Wilkes to Alfred Harmsworth — and it draws a line in the sand. Journalism in action is defined not by boxes ticked or examinations passed, but by the stories produced. What matters in the end is what comes out, what affects the public consciousness — not the rulebooks that govern its practices.

We dub the brave men and women of Homs who venture onto blazing streets with their mobile phone cameras "citizen journalists" for good reasons. They are photographing something the world needs to see.

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  • Ben Marshall talks to the star and creator of The Shield | Television & radio | The Guardian.

When they die, as they often do, their death is a blow to journalism — and our attempts to put them in some lower category of loss is an affront one that human-rights warriors do not share. Of course lordly TV presenters in plush studios don't like to be associated with the likes of Greenwald. Why, he believes too much in what he reports. He's involved. Of course university journalism professors are keen on ethical codes and standards of conduct, because if these matters are pushed into a secondary place they diminish the importance of the education that pays their wages. And of course judges, and the politicians who appoint them, like to construct structures of behaviour they deem to deserve their public's trust.

Some of the time that's all very well if you like lugubrious Leveson debates, that is. Some of the time it's a necessary framework. But time and again it's what comes out that counts, not how it emerges through a web of existing perceptions. Greenwald is a journalist.

Wrong arm of the law: The Shield

Edward Snowden , releasing individual stories for individual purpose, exemplifies the impulses of journalism. And nobody, in whatever judiciary committee hearing, should imagine that a law can truly shield them. That's not what journalists are about. And as for their proprietors ….

Your next box set: The Shield | Television & radio | The Guardian

This is Shakespearean tragedy as it should be on the small screen: ordinary men stumbling into a river, not realising that it's flowing with blood until it's easier to cross to the other side — it's no coincidence that Fox has dubbed this series The Final Act. The curtain is about to fall, but The Shield's uncertain spirit lives on.

Its influence is clear in everything from Dexter a serial killer who kills serial killers, no less and Breaking Bad is making really good crystal meth OK if it's to pay for your cancer treatment? But will these shows have the guts to carry these themes through to their tragic consequences?

Or will producers retcon them out for a happy ending?

How to Make: a Deployable Shield (Part 1, the Prototype)

I can't help but feel that The Shield's climax will set a precedent — will it be a cop-out or a cop out? A lot is riding on Mackey's outcome next week: for the sake of the box, let's hope he ends up in one. Topics Culture TV and radio blog.

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