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Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007 | RE: “Journalism’s Voice“, by James Goldsborough:
Mr. Goldsborough says we can’t do without journalism’s product. I can. We all can. And the times prove it.
The story begins with old news — the demise of newsprint, examples illustrating the citizen’s dependency on the Fourth Estate for survival, and fresh new replacements for the dying institution: They’ll save us from bad things.
The problem is that too many journalists are far adrift from the primary job of reporting news, including unswerving allegiance to facts and telling “the whole truth.” The newsy era that Mr. Goldsborough cites in his story is typical. Selective, biased “journalism”, and embedded reporter’s opinions, are what’s killing the news media as we’ve known it and it will bury its offshoots no matter how hip the media paradigm or who’s adding the spin.
It’s source reporting that’s sick. The vast market for straight information is people who want facts and truth; often to substantiate something they “already know”. They refuse to buy complicated misinformation and pimped out advice on everything from the food to the next cool gas tank juice to who to vote for. The “replacement” journalism will die faster than its predecessors because its same old stuff will go around and come around much faster.
The new breed of reporting is different and it’s starting from scratch in many ways (thus, not really new). It reports about interesting, truly or virtually, local news. It even has a new sort of self authenticating way about itself: Much is reported by participants in the news event or someone who is chiming in because they are there too and can confirm or instantly correct the facts. There are no emotional screeching heads, dashing in from the makeup room, babbling rumors and half-baked facts. There are no seasoned reporters promising us the whole truth about some distant incident that 50 percent of the audience has already seen, as reported on you-name-it-tube by citizens with phone-cams.
And there aren’t intermingled biased messages and opinionated advice telling the citizens what their author has decided they need to know or what to do next. Even Mr. Goldsborough says of his peers: “we were nosy, and noisy, and sometimes even unpatriotic … we forced him to resign.” He forgot to mention journalism’s liars, truth twisters, and fabricators who are now so easily revealed and evicted; agents of the traditional news media or their so-called replacement institutions. Who else would hire them?
And what about the notion that what’s new and attractive is “wrenching the news from a handful of elitists and ‘democratizing’ it”? This is another mis-read.
“Democratization of the news” is a newsmaker’s excuse for justifying means by the ends. News isn’t something that needs a fair and “equal” say or to be filtered through polls and voted on. The news is facts and truth and honesty. It needs to be treated that way.