In my previous post I mentioned that the profession (the calling if you want to be dramatic about it), of journalism enjoys a popularity just south of a root canal. I also wrote that I was going to explain why.
First, though, I’d like to offer some possibilities. Don’t worry—you don’t lose any points for a wrong answer:
- Bias and partisanship
- Poor research
- etc., etc., etc.
Okay, you might be saying to yourself at this point. So, what is the answer?
My answer is . . . Yes. It’s all-of-the-above.
The fact it that journalism (and, by extension, journalists) has lost the public’s respect and is on the brink of becoming irrelevant.
I can’t really disagree, especially with the proliferation and popularity of those pandering platforms that pretend to be journalism: certain cable TV networks, blogs, websites, Tweets, MySpace and FaceBook pages.
By the way, see what I did there? I used alliteration in the sentence. All those p’s.
Getting back to the point, which can be summed up in one short sentence: Journalism is in trouble, has been heading in that direction for a while, and finding an solution to its seemingly inevitable slide may may be futile.
Hmmm . . . That’s a bit more than “short,” but is a perfect example of the fundamental problem that journalism faces. I either lied or misled mischaracterized or—most likely—didn’t bother explaining what I meant by “short.” In other words, what I wrote had no veracity, it was not credible.
And that, I believe is, what is wrong with the news: As communicated, by whatever means, most of it lacks credibility. As Judge Judy often says: “If it doesn’t make sense, it’s a lie!”
I believe that in order for journalism to regain its credibility and reputation and standing, journalists must apply that which most j-schools promise, but that few deliver: the use of Critical Thinking (also known as “informal logic”) in researching, analyzing, and, finally, writing the news. I like to call this “Critical Journalism,” and that’s what I will be writing about: How to do it.
I believe it was Carl Bernstein who said something along the lines of: “Journalism is the best version of the truth.” Actually, I’m pretty certain my paraphrase is off by an order of magnitude at least. Carl would never have written so clunky a sentence, even on his worst day. But I hope you get the point:
If journalists write better, more truthful, more cogent stories, people will begin to respect us again.
That’s what I believe. I wonder if you believe it, too. If you have an opinion on the matter, drop me a comment in the little box below.