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Tag: journalism (Page 2 of 2)

Hey, Look at Us!

This morning, almost the entire front page of the Washington Post, including everything above the fold, was devoted to one story: the sale of the Washington Post. The kind of coverage usually reserved for wars and other cataclysmic events.

With the chaotic and dangerous situations in Egypt and Syria, a continuing anemic economic recovery that’s killing the American middle class, a herd of politicians whose behavior would shame most six year olds, the government working hard to scrape every bit of data possible on it’s citizens, and most of those citizens clueless about all of it, the Post’s editors decided this is THE one most important story their readers needed to pay attention to.

This is what passes for journalism in 2013.

post_front_page

Above the Fold

In analog newspapers, the space above the fold on the front page is considered very valuable. That’s where editors place the stories they consider most important, or at least the ones that might catch the eye of someone looking over the choices on newsstands.

Postpage

On the front page of yesterday’s Washington Post, 1/6th of that above-the-fold space was used to begin a story about how our water and sewage systems are falling apart and will require billions of dollars to fix.

The other 5/6th was taken up with pictures and stories about a group of people competing to lead this country, all of whom want to slash funding for even the most basic upgrades to the public infrastructure.

Same for roads, schools, energy, air traffic control, ports, and pretty much everything other than the military, and walls to keep people who don’t look like them out of the country.

Actually, most of those candidates for president would love to sell just everything off to the highest bidder (or to no-bid contributors if they can get away with it).

However, that above-the-fold space in the Post is also an example of how the news media covers the electoral process.

One-sixth (if that) on important issues, ones that actually affect the quality of life in this country, and five-sixths on the horse race of the election, the gossip, the manufactured controversies, arguing over the stupid, out-of-context, and irrelevant sound bites.

It’s going to be a long election year, and it’s clear the candidates and the reporters who cover them will be spending most of their time on trivial crap instead of educating the electorate.

Gatekeepers

An editorial writer at something called the Digital Journalist has had enough of all these so-called “citizen” journalists.

Citizen journalist is a misnomer. There is no such thing. There are citizens and there are journalists. Everybody can be one of the former, but to be called a journalist means that you are a professional. Either you have been schooled in journalism, or you have “paid your dues,” rising slowly through the ranks.

So, what does this person (writing anonymously – real brave journalism there) believe should qualify someone to wear the high title of journalist?cat.gif

Why, the blessing of those already admitted to the club, of course.

Professional visual journalists cover fires, floods, crime, the legislature and the White House every day. There is either a fire line or police line, or security, or the Secret Service who allow them to pass upon displaying credentials vetted by the departments or agencies concerned. In New York City, for example, working on a committee of the NYPD and NYFD, news organizations every year fill out applications for Working Press cards. A senior visual journalist appointed by the New York Press Photographers Association passes on those applications.

It would be much easier to take this person seriously if the people calling themselves journalists (especially on the talking heads channels) actually followed the kind of professional standards alluded to in this article.

Simple fact checking – a process being assumed by citizen journalists since many of the real ones don’t bother – would be a good start.

Teaching Journalism… Badly

This is a pretty crappy example of the relationship between government and journalism.

Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy agreed to speak to students at a private high school in New York and then insisted that he be allowed to review the story written by the kids for the school newspaper before publication.

Evidentially, he only wanted “to make sure the quotations attributed to him were accurate”.

This coming from “one of the court’s most vigilant defenders of First Amendment values”.

However, Frank D. LoMonte, the executive director of the Student Press Law Center, understands what’s going on: “That’s not the teaching of journalism. That’s an exercise in image control.”

Exactly!

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