Once upon a time, press releases were narrowly distributed to channels which supplied information to a privileged profession, and one had to be a member of that privileged profession (accredited journalist) in order to have access to the distribution channels. The internet has changed all that.
Mr Denmore gives examples of how certain writers who are paid for their knowledgeable insight are shown over and over again to have feet of clay and invisible finery whenever someone cares to look at their published works with a mildly jaundiced eye:
Now far be it from me to claim any superior knowledge about the economic outlook than the expert forecasters at Access, but how hard can it be for journalists to do the research that just took this former hack 10 minutes to find? What are journalists bringing to the table if they are only cutting and pasting from the press releases that are freely available on the web anyway?
There are still certain channels to which accredited journalists have more timely access than the rest of us. There are surely ways to parlay that access in substantive ways that rise far above churnalism. So why does it not appear to have happened yet? In particular, why don’t other journalists point it out more clearly when the churnalists get it so badly and obviously wrong?
Did you hear any journalist provide any other source of information, or insert context or ask the forecaster to explain why it should be believed this time when it has got it wrong so often in the past? Crickets….
You see this is the problem. The media is at risk of becoming a gigantic reproduction machine. If journalists are just going to swallow whole everything they are told, what value do they bring? “But it’s just our job to report,” you’ll hear. No, their job is to explain, verify, check, challenge. The source information is all out there. It’s not that hard to put it together yourself. Yet day after day, we hear breathless headlines from under-trained, over-worked hacks who spend no time checking, no time researching and no time asking anyone questions that might yield something other than what is already contained in a self-serving press release.
Is it any wonder the public is giving up on the mainstream media?
Verify,check and challenge. Or perish.
Categories: ethics & philosophy, media, technology
Is there a link in this post that I’m missing? I’d love to read the full article.
Oops, thanks for letting me know I dropped the ball on that one, Eden.
The post is at http://thefailedestate.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/future-shockers.html, and I’ll add the link to my OP.
Yep. Reporting generally should involve using more than one source, and understanding the differences between information, angles and opinions.