When I was little, the nightly news was straightforward and informative. I remember serious newscasters who told you the 5 W’s in a very concise format and showed no interest one way or the other. They reported the who, what, when, where, and why. Period. It was up to you to think about it. Names like Cronkite, Murrow, and Brokaw. They were my heroes. I trusted them. I still do. If they showed emotion, you knew it was real.
I’m sure that is an idealized memory of my childhood. But that was the image of journalism that I had during junior high and high school. But something happened in the 80’s. News suddenly needed to keep ratings like any other show on TV. Cable TV brought more competition. ESPN made it okay for commentators to offer opinions on sports, and once you got used to hearing their opinions in the last 15 minutes of the newscast, it wasn’t a big leap to move that up into the first 15 minutes.
By the time that I was attending college it was accepted that major network news shows would take a certain position on the news. It was no surprise to me then that I dropped my journalism major and became an English major. If the news was going to be portrayed in a particular light, I prefer it to be honest and call it the fiction that it was. I decided fiction writing was for me, because I didn’t want to be part of an industry that accepted opinion and sensationalism as fact.
Is it any wonder that we have this blossoming field of bloggers today? I believe that the world is craving the truth and they are no longer getting it in the mass media that our parents grew up with. The system has forever been flawed, but we have let it sink to an all-time low. Bloggers are a new generation of truth seekers. Likely, some are no better than what you see in the mass media, but if you are an interested reader and look for the truly good blogger you will find writers who care about their craft and who write with honesty and ethics.
I truly believe that this new forum of the written word will help guide us in the proper direction of reporting while remembering what reporting the news is all about. I’m also positive that it isn’t about leaking the world’s secrets to everyone. Not everyone needs to know everything. True journalists find a topic, complete research, find valid sources, and tell the story. That’s a journalist.
A squeaky wheel looking for his 15 minutes of fame takes private government documents and publishes them to the world, careless about the harm that the release of these documents may cause to innocent people. Some people hide behind the words of “free press” and call this journalism. But this isn’t journalism, which is a respectable professional. This is ambulance chasing of the digital world with world governments and corporations as the victims. When these sleaze balls run out of government paperwork to publish, will they publish my diary in the name of free press? (Guess what, Julian Paul Assange I’ve criticized you in my diary and you’ll never get to read what I said.)