11.08.2010

Beyond the brouhaha

If there’s anyone out there who still cares about ethics in journalism and who doesn’t break out in a rash when reading anything longer than a tweet, this one’s for you.

In 11 years of fighting online for truth, justice and the American way, the subject I’ve written most about is journalism ethics.

Late Sunday night, masked by a headline about Keith Olbermann’s return to the air Tuesday, David Bauder of the Associated Press delivered the clearest analysis on the subject I’ve read in some time.

Along the way I’ve probably offended some by stating, “MSNBC is the left’s Fox News.” One could argue that MSNBC, unlike Fox, delivers truth. But, that’s not my point.

As Mr. Bauder points out, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish objective reporting, aka news, from opinion – in this age of so-called “advocacy journalism."

Advocacy journalism is an oxymoron. The blurring of the line between news and opinion should be unacceptable to professional journalists, and it should be unacceptable to consumers of news.

Let me point out here that I believe one of the problems to be the advent of specialized reporting where, quite naturally, persons are hired with degrees in certain fields, Thus, you have "journalists" who have never had a course in journalism ethics, journalism history, journalism law or, for that matter, journalism 101.

My argument is and has always been: if the news organization you choose supports your points of view, you are not interested in news; you are looking for validation.

For this reason I gave up TV a year ago and am very grateful that most major newspapers have online sites where news and opinion are still clearly delineated.

DemWit recommends that you read Mr. Bauder’s analysis HERE. If anything good came out of the whole “What’s up with Olbermann?” brouhaha, it might just be this one article.

Otherwise, go tweet!

9 comments:

tnlib said...

My sentiments exactly. Doesn't it strike you as curious that the people who truly support high standards in journalism either work for or worked in the media?

Several examples:

"Journalism Today - Call it What You Want But It Ain't Journalism"

http://parsleyspics.blogspot.com/2010/07/journalism-today-call-it-what-you-will.html

In it I quote and link to this article by you.

"Journalism Today, Plain and Simple"

http://demwit.blogspot.com/2010/07/journalism-today-plain-simple.html

And here's a piece by journalist and author Ivan Goldman, w3hich won't thrill KO fans:

http://ivangoldman.blogspot.com/2010/06/trade-olbermannn-to-mexico.html

Advocacy journalism isn't very different from advocacy theatre, whether it's Fox or MSNBC.

Ahab said...

"...if the news organization you choose supports your points of view, you are not interested in news; you are looking for validation."

Hard-hitting but very true. People tend to consume news that reinforces their opinions rather than challenging them.

B.J. said...

tnlib: And those of us who actually worked in journalism know there was a time when we would have been kicked out on our butts if we dared to inject subjectivity into a news article. Somewhere along the way broadcast news decided the standards didn’t apply.

Thanks for the links and the reference to DemWit. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Ahab: And, in so doing, people don’t learn a damn thing! DemWit appreciates you!

BJ

tnlib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tnlib said...

Sorry - didn't notice you'd deleted the Frenchman, so will delete my translation as well.

"Somewhere along the way broadcast news decided the standards didn’t apply."

1) It's all in the name of competition and selling ads.

2) I'm afraid I think we libs are guilty of the same thing. If we're not lowering our standards, we certainly have problems with doubling them up.

B.J. said...

Thanks, Leslie. I just marked it as spam and took it out so as not to let it serve as a red herring. I had two years of college French, and I can tell you two things in that language: “I went to town this afternoon” and “The train for Paris arrives at 7 o’clock.” LOL.

I do hope folks will read the article linked in this post!

BJ

Frodo, reporting from Berlin, said...

Herein Frodo offers a comment about journalism, campaign financial reform, and how we got in this mess.
Imagine, if you will, two characters singing "Money makes the world go around, the world go around..." as you read Frodo's words.
Where in the Hell do you think the money goes to finance elections today?

It goes for television.

Why should anyone be surprised that if you put enough money in, you can get anything back you want. It is not "unAmerican" to realize that some of our fellow citizens will say or do anything for money. That includes journalists. With all due respect proud Merry, had the money been big enough in "the day" then some of those we both revere would've exhibited less than puritanical behavior also.

The journalists who today remain committed to an industry standard share one thing in common...they are comparatively poor.

Glenn Beck gets $37M annually, or thereabouts from Fox. Do you think he would not drop his "trou" and make himself go blind on screen if Rupert Murdoch told him he had to do so?

What about Don Imus?

Or Wolf Blitzer?

It's all about the money.

B.J. said...

Hobbit! Is the beer flowing freely in the cabaret? This from my previous post:

What these candidates really represent is a group of malleable buffoons bought by big bucks from big business. Millions of bucks funneled through their campaigns – as Patton said, “like grease through a goose” – to other big businesses – the corporate media.

What good is a free press if ethics no longer matter?

BJ aka Merry

Bill Sumrall said...

Journalism has probably come full circle and reinvented the wheel. Here's my "potted history" take:
In Colonial times, didn't most newspapers reflect one side of a political party's views or the other -- The Whig Gazette or The Tory News? But pioneer publishers may have been aping the British model.
Eventually the objective model developed and has served citizen/readers well.
And, IMHO, the "Big Three" network television newscasts have been the general exception to cable TV advocates of one political stripe or the other.
But then, as you put it yourself, "somewhere along the way broadcast news decided the standards didn’t apply."
Somewhere along the line too, some of those covering those in power mistook that fact as making them powerful in and of themselves.
As one journalism instructor once told his class, if you're serious about being a reporter, you probably won't have many friends outside of the profession -- because one day you may have to report on them.
The same could probably be said of police officers. And how popular are they at parties not involving those wearing blue uniforms.