[LINK] A strange impact on politics, of the Information Age
rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Sat Feb 25 19:56:22 AEDT 2012
Frank, I'm plenty grumpy and winking at old ... but before that golden
age, Australia had hellspawn like Smith's Weekly (whose 1950s suicide
came when it repudiated its former Anti-Semicism - I wasn't there, but
my father gave me a history of it called "Remember Smith's Weekly), or
The Truth ...
My grandfather didn't live long enough to impart anything to me
directly; his wife, my grandmother, said "don't do it" when I became a
journalist. Oh well ...
Some further comment below.
On 25/02/12 7:35 PM, Frank O'Connor wrote:
> Well, you're a journalist now, and so was I - in a part-time desultory way for Kerry and his boy - for about 15 years ...
> But I think back to the 60's and 70's when print ruled and papers had the moolah and resources to investigative journalism. Some papers had integrity, reliability and crdibility. In the 60's and 70's certain 'Rules' were always followed ... be you a sleazy tabloid editor, or the publisher of a high end rag at the right end of town.
> The New York Times, The Washington Post, and here the Australian (I kid you not!) and the Age ... they were looked up to as something to shoot for.
> Nowadays even the basic rules have been thrown out the door. Newspapers don't discriminate between content and crap any more. The line between advertising, PR and ordinary newspaper and media content has blurred (BTW ... how does that Channel 74 get by the supposedly strict TV advertising rules?) Journalists have become the news, blatantly, explicitly ... rather than reporting on the news.
Not all. I am constantly surprised by (a) the hits you get, and (b) the
thanks you get for taking a story and giving a dead-straight treatment.
I won't horn-blow by providing links, but one of my treats working for
The Register has been the freedom to write science stories. I will
confess to pulling out the Vox Pop to the max in headline writing, but
the stories are straight fact, plus explanation of obscurity. That on
its own is good for such an overwhelming response from readers that I am
now mystified why other journalists treat science stories so badly.
But: journalists are, in particular, overwhelmed by PR numbers. If you
aren't sufficiently thorny, or if your insecurity makes you want people
to like you, or a host of other reasons - resisting the push is very.
> Journalists fail to point out salient aspects of those who are getting favourable exposure, or the possible agendas (and funding of) of individuals, or supposedly independent institutions from the different sides of and increasingly dirty and corrupt politics, or whether content has been sourced from PR and advertising firms or whatever. These are crucial and critical aspects of their 'stories' that never make it into the content. They don't even give us the option of assessing the veracity of an article any more. In most instances there's no attempt at even-handedness.
I don't bother with even-handedness. "Fair" has nothing to do with
"true" - or rather "Facts are not fair". Gravity is a fact; it's a very
unfair one, if you happen to be falling. Once you confuse "fact" with
"fair", you're stuck in that endless cycle of people trying to "correct
the record". I recently wrote about the Heartland Institute documents,
and got the obligatory "to be fair you have to put our side of the
story" e-mail; I said "correct my facts and I'll listen to you", and got
no further approach from the spinner.
> They rely on their Privileges, but under the protection of those privileges serve us up a diet of increasing crap ... and then scream when the privileges come under attack. Let them show that they merit such privilege and protection. Let them produce product with little numbers like veracity, disclosure of interest, substantiated, in-the-public-interest, that are factual, verified and easily delineated between news and editorial.
> If they can't give us that, then they shouldn't bother giving us anything ...
> Bottom line: In the past there were media outlets and papers that we could point to as shining lights. Nowadays, none of them have the resources, the business model, the time or probably the skill set to do what the great outlets of the past did. Nowadays its much easier just to work to an agenda and formula, and hope to please rather than challenge the reader or viewer.
Resource is the killer. Thanks, Google: it set out to destroy a
particular business model, it succeeded - but there's no immediate
candidate to take its place.
> They're all PR and advertising bunnies nowadays ... with tiny skerricks of news thrown in justify their existence.
> I'm a grumpy old bastard, Rich ... but I do think that journalism has sunk to the depths of whale poo over the last 20 years.
> On 25/02/2012, at 6:26 PM, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
>> I wonder if there ever *was* a "golden age" of journalism, Frank. There
>> have been good editors and publications and journalists, and bad ones;
>> they often exist at the same time, sometimes in the same publication,
>> sometimes in the same person.
>> On 25/02/12 4:51 PM, Frank O'Connor wrote:
>>> Yes and no,
>>> One thing you do get with the information age is immediacy ... you watch/listen/read as it happens.
>>> Whether it's actually happening is, of course, another question.
>>> The downside of course is that this (and competition from other sources) means that traditional news and media outlets are under pressure to perform. So stories are concocted, manufactured and constructed on the fly, the press itself becomes the news by airing unsubstantiated opinions and ideology masquerading as fact and truth, the idea that sources and stories should be verified has gone by the board, opinion counts as fact, and fact becomes more ethereal and inconsequential, the thirty second sound bite becomes all, the daily media timetable must be catered to, Public Relations and press releases are uncritically accepted as bonafide news content, 'paid for' stories become de riguer, trite gossip and 'celebrity news' become premium content, the news garnering machine embraces corruption and bribery to acquire said content ... etc. etc.
>>> As I've said before ... we don't live in the Golden Age of Journalism.
>>> The political parties? The pollsters are so far up their collective asses that they don't dare do anything without consulting them (whether or not the poll's methodology, constructs and content actually holds up to scrutiny or not). Government is no longer something that's done to a rational plan ... it's management by the panic that the pollsters can cause the politicians.
>>> Maybe we'd be better off going back to the Athenian idea of democracy, and have any interested member of the public drop black or white stones into big jars to vote any policies the government is trying to pass. (Of course that lent itself to corruption and political manipulation by the rich and powerful like you wouldn't believe ... but the Australian pollsters and PR firms are used in much the same way anyway, so what would be the effective difference?)
>>> On 25/02/2012, at 4:21 PM, David Boxall wrote:
>>>>> Strangely, the information age seems to have made grasping the truth of things harder. The shrinking of the broad base of political parties, their failure to tell stories that inspire and ring true, the increasing lack of penetration of the serious media, the rarity of deep analysis told in a compelling way, the 60-second YouTube videos ...
>>>> David Boxall | "Cheer up" they said.
>>>> | "Things could be worse."
>>>> http://david.boxall.id.au | So I cheered up and,
>>>> | Sure enough, things got worse.
>>>> | --Murphy's musing
>>>> Link mailing list
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