Month: September 2012

Journalism today: Should we expect more, demand better?

These days, I feel both proud of and appalled by the state of journalism, especially when we consider such subjects as politics, energy, economics and even sports. It seems that journalism is skewed, or at least suspect of being too subjective and driven by agenda. In all fairness, there are plenty of outlets that offer the straight news, the Who-What-Where-When-How reporting we should expect and demand. There is also always a place for opinion; the op-ed writers and columnists own that ball field.

However, amid the Republican and Democratic conventions, the looming elections and the economic and employment concerns still hovering over us like dark clouds, there is too much control by reporters and their networks or publications, too much control of the news, of the truth. It has now become clear that we are not trusted to form our own opinions. In the minds of the gods of journalism, opinions should be doled out like so much candy, opiates, and we are forced to choose which truth to believe.

I prefer interviews and facts, though even those wild cards can be altered, blurred to steer the perspective of the readers or viewers.

As a writer, I don’t feel comfortable working with an agenda on my shoulder. I use the word “integrity” cautiously for fear that it might appear as though I am breaking my arm to pat myself on the back. Opinion is one thing — and valuable at that — but omitting or skewing facts in the name of perpetuating an agenda is not my thing.  That’s for taking sides, which is also a good thing but not in the name of what amounts to a journalistic lie and the short selling of one’s integrity.

Worse still is that it has become increasingly difficult for the non-journalists, the people of this country and most of the world to just get the news as it happened, the facts being straight and crisp and completely absent of subjectivity or hidden agendas, much like a well-starched white shirt.

Instead, these days, it’s all about speed over alacrity, style over substance, attention-grabbing over righteousness. The blogosphere has hijacked news in its most basic format and cable news, which has exploded since 9/11, has become a battleground for the Right, Left, Center… all with ratings being the ultimate prize, the captured flag.

I don’t like it. All I can do, all any of us can really do, is mine for facts, take in all opinions, overcome the noise and the lies and the bombast and demand the truth, tossing away any outlet that refuses to give it to you.

To paraphrase an old and well-worn cliché: There are three sides to any story, only one of them is true.

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