April 23, 2013

Journalism Needs More Dicks

I think we have reached a new low in journalism.

During the past few big news events, I’ve found myself wondering, as I watch and read, just how badly the various news organizations are screwing it up. I’m defining “screwing it up” as failing to act as custodians of fact with a discipline of verification. I’m going to over-generalize from that and assert that news now appears to be partly about the entertainment value of watching journalists get it wrong long before they get it right.

I base that over-generalization on this assumption and prediction (really stepping in it now): No one will lose their jobs over any of this. And no one will lose their jobs the next time. Which ensures there  will be a next time. And a next. And a next…

Let’s check in with Jon Stewart.

He starts off the sketch by asserting that The Daily Show is hard on the news media because “we are dicks.” I’ll agree if part of the definition of being a dick is doing the necessary work of critiquing the performance of the news media and holding it to standards that ought to define it.

Journalism needs more dicks.

One Response

  1. So you think you had it bad outside the Boston area? Coverage from Boston-area news radio and particularly WBUR-FM (NPR affiliate) became unbearable, with announcers treading water endlessly for hours (radio people call this “fill”) and with multiple repeats of material already broadcast when there was no new news. This resulted in an almost complete blackout on other news from around the region, the country and the world. The fertilizer plant explosion in Texas got hardly any coverage, and less analysis — though it killed more people than the Boston bombings, and raises important issues of industrial safety, government regulation etc.

    My peak annoyance level came when the Governor and police chiefs gave a press conference, and then immediately following the news conference, WBUR announcers regurgitated it — “the Governor said” — “The Boston police chief said.” Etc. This went on for as long as the press conference itself, followed by the hundredth (? — who kept count?) repetition of the entire sequence of events since Monday. Every new tidbit of information became the subject of tiresome analysis and speculation.

    I don’t know how many dozens of times I was informed that bombs went off at the Marathon on Monday. Anyone who didn’t already know would have had to be returning from a different dimension…

    Fortunately, there were still music stations playing music.