10.21.2009

Yeah Yeah. Probably nothing here I haven't already said.

Still bedridden. Still bored. But I need to be doing this anyway.

Cooper pointed me in the direction of an interview in Time Magazine with the woman, the myth, the legend. It's a great interview, and Helen Thomas is, of course, a national treasure. But there's something she said that I need to weigh in on.

Everyone with a laptop thinks they’re a journalist. Everyone with a cell phone thinks they’re a photographer. So our profession is sidelined in a way. There’s no turning back. It’s frightening because you can ruin lives and reputations willy-nilly without realizing it. No editors. No standards. No ethics. We’re at the crossroads. So many newspapers that are so valuable are going down the drain. It’s a crisis.


It's true that this medium doesn't have any mechanism for keeping the liars, illiterates, and fuckjobs from getting their message spread. But the means of keeping the undesirables out of the game in journalism only incidentally has anything to do with standards. When confronted with phrases like "journalistic ethics," the media exec consults his balance sheet. When confronted with a phrase like "duty to the newsreading public" some laugh uncontrollably, while others clap their hands over their ears and sing the Star Spangled Banner.

If she has any ideas about how to encourage bloggers to have class, I'm all for it. But the fact of the matter is, the old journalistic model fucked us hard, and while I love Helen Thomas and know that she's not a part of the problem, she's apologizing for the people who are. The origins of Objective Journalism didn't come from a motive for fair reporting. It came as a necessity starting at the time when the majority of newspaper revenue stopped coming from circulation and started coming from advertising. Newspapers ran for the center to avoid offending anyone likely to fund their operation.

If you need convincing, witness how absent these principles were abandoned when there was a profit motive in the leadup to the Spanish-American War. Hell, the highest honor awarded to journalists is named after a man who told his photographers to just take some shots, and that "I'll supply the war"

And you can draw a direct line from there to true political Moriarties like Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. The desire on the part of some journalists and most editors to be Objective kept the Truth--which for those beasts had to be expressed subjectively-- out of the common knowledge. And it could have happened again if it weren't for bloggers. Remember how CNN covered Sarah Palin? Wolf Blitzer was falling all over himself trying not to let on that he recognized her as the airhead she is. The people who called her out were bloggers, much to the Barracuda's on-the-record chagrin.

Let alone the utter clusterfuck that was the coverage of the leadup to the Iraq War.

This idea that more voices feeding into the discourse is somehow a bad thing is utter crock. As is the idea that the pros will somehow be crowded out. They're the ones with the access to newsmakers and distribution channels. If a professional loses their job in the midst of the rise of the blogger, it's because they weren't doing it properly in the first place, and I can't say I particularly care.

The object of the journalist is to be a conduit for Truth. Everything else is just window dressing. Anything that impedes it ought to be discarded without a moment's regret.

4 comments:

  1. I agree with this part.....

    "It's true that this medium doesn't have any mechanism for keeping the liars, illiterates, and fuckjobs from getting their message spread"



    The investigative reporting like the following is rare -(http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/magazine/30doctors.html?_r=2).

    Blogging is really nothing more than opinion, and though fun it's doesn't come close to journalism. I would love to see real investigative journalism in blogging form. There are a few models so far not that successful, and a few independent publications where you find this, but not many.

    Right now we have even most of our news sources all pulling from the same thing.

    enjoy the best rest

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  2. Blogging is nothing more than whatever the person writing the blog does with it. And so is anything done over traditional media. The only difference is that one camp has tenure.

    So yes, there's a problem with signal/noise ratio. The difference is, the bloggers who're total idiots? They don't get listened to. As a blogger you need to earn your audience with content. Traditional media gets it handed to them by the suits in the front office, and you don't need to look any further than Murdoch to know that I'm right.

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  3. I've decided what the title of my memoir will be: "Today... A Friend Failed me". Confined to a small (but surprisingly comfy chair) in an all but forgotten tower of the Logan Airport... I muse to myself over what to do to bide my time until the bell tolls to signify that my imprisonment is up and that I may go home. I think to myself "what could I do that would supply enough amusement to prevent me from drawing inappropriate things on my body in perminent marker?"; and then it dawned on me, Pat's Blog. I came here... expecting to find some kind of entertaining story about your life that would make me giggle like a school girl. I see no such story. Now... I never profess to be interested in any form of politics... nor do I even vote. Funny stories... there are not... social commentary there is an abundance of.

    Moral of this story: Pat's Blog = Josh's forearm covered in pictures of Pacman eating Barack Obama. *smile*

    ReplyDelete