Are we as bloggers guilty of depriving the world from real and factual news reporting and contributing to Death of Journalism as we know it?
It is an interesting question. Specially when even the journalists have taken to blogging and to integrating Twitter and Facebook interactions in to regular news reporting. How will it shape the future of the world opinion and news itself.
According to the blog Paper Cuts – the loss of jobs at the US Newspapers has been staggering:
2009 total so far: 11811+
2008 total: 15,977+
2007 (June to December) Total: 2,112+
That is more than 29900 jobs lost in just TWO YEARS (June 2007 to July 2009)!! According to its stats further – 171 Newspapers have closed in that period as well.
That means around 30,000 reporters, correspondents, photographers and other journalists less in the country. That is a big loss for news reporting as an institution. Worse, these jobs are NOT coming back!
Apart from the job losses and newspaper closures, many other things happen:
The membership of the Military Reporters and Editors Association has fallen from six hundred in 2001 to under one hundred today. In April, Cox Newspapers closed its Washington office, contributing to the dramatic decline in the number of reporters covering the federal government. The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Newsday have all closed their foreign bureaus. Because of repeated retrenchments, the McClatchy newspapers, which include The Sacramento Bee, The Charlotte Observer, and more than two dozen other dailies across the US, cannot afford to open a South Asia bureau that’s been in the works for three years, or to keep a full-time correspondent in Mexico or even Baghdad, where its bureau has done such standout work.
Closures of Foreign Bureaus and Washington Bureaus and presence in sensitive areas like Iraq, Iran etc is normal now. What is this journalist network replaced by? Twitter, blogs, aggregating news sites.
So, the question to grapple as news reading public for us all is – Are Twitter/Blogs etc a GOOD and RELIABLE alternative to the News Reporters?
Journalism via Twitter and Blogs has another name: Citizen Journalism. That is also amateur journalism. To effectively answer the above question, one needs to understand if Journalism is a discipline that needs to be learned just like Accounting and Medicine – without which you could be a bad quack at best?
Is Journalism to blame itself?
Over the years journalism has changed itself. From serious and investigative journalism which strived to be dispassionate, the news reporting has become anything but all that.
Look at the news channels and the newspapers. Fox news is strongly anti-democratic (pro-Republican and conservative) party and MSNBC is strongly pro-Democratic party (and all that which comes along with that in the liberal vs conservative commentary). They have a strong following of listeners and viewers who just want ONE-SIDED story. The Fox viewers do not tune in to MSNBC except to make fun or deplore it.. and vice versa. Worse, there is not even a pretense of being balanced!
The same goes on in every country. The Journalists in every country side with their own Government and Nations and desist from asking tough questions in circumstances when they should have. For examples, if the Journalists had done their job, then maybe Iraq fiasco, the Housing Bubble Fiasco, the Economic fiasco would have NOT happened .. or at least the public would have pre-empted it! The writing was so clearly on the wall LONG before these things happened but the commentary was consistenly inadequate!
Journalists as “Pimps”
I still remember my first experience in dealing with journalists way back in 1995 in India. I was trying to sell my company’s IPO. At one of the parties, we had hosted, a journalist from one of India’s leading Business Newspapers came up to me as started asking me questions, which seemed genuine and I was answering to my best ability. Then, suddenly when we were alone he informed me that he was going to write a damaging piece on my company’s CEO. I was surprised. Then he said “If you don’t want me to write that, you can do that”. I asked him how. Then he gave me his asking price. I was aghast!
I later learned that this was a normal practice amongst the Indian journalists – specially in the business journalism area.
I am sure that the Indian journalists are not the only ones who are in this league and employ such tactics. Do you think, a journalist who joins Fox News has some special Pro-Republican serum in him? Somewhere someone is PAYING for that slant! Who and How much, that is the ONLY question!
If someone is airing an opinion that is not completely true.. or putting out half facts.. then journalism is compromised.
In case of blogs and citizen journalism, one knows that they will be inherently biased as they are opinions of just ONE person who has a slant of a certain kind in different issues. But what about the news media – which is assumed to be free of such biases?
If there is indeed a discipline called journalism – then HOW MANY journalists and media houses can honestly say that they are adhering to their version of “Hippocratic Oath”?
So, what is harmed with Newspapers’ demise?
I think the biggest loss to all of us will be original reporting. Someone who collects information on the ground from various places. Original news. Not opinions. Not telecasting by creating news capsules.. but REAL ORIGINAL REPORTING.
Anchoring of News, like say Walter Cronkite did, will be passe. There are too many anchors on the net now. That will have to go away. What will survive instead is original reporting. Hopefully. Because if the newspapers die, then they wouldn’t afford the reporters.
Unfortunately, in the last many decades, Anchors and News readers had become the heroes and super stars of a News Media. The actual ON THE GROUND news collecter (Reporter) was diminished as that part was hardly sexy. A Larry King or a Jon Stewart probably makes many times more money than a reporter in Iraq!
Rise of Blogs etc, may be a chance for the Reporters to extract their revenge!! 🙂
1. The News About the Internet
Featured Image: Garry Knight – Reading A Newspaper By A Wall