Monday, November 12, 2007

Are reporters doomed?

In the rush to embrace new media we risk destroying the soul of traditional reporting,
argues David Leigh in the Guardian. In the race for quick hits on sex, celebrity and scandal, slow (old school)journalism may be fazed out in favor of the bottom line, he laments, and warns against the demise of powerful news outlets.

There are several reasons for this. The mass media can shine a light. Or they can reflect back light. The Daily Mail and Fox News, for example, are highly profitable businesses that make their money out of telling people what they think they know already. They reflect back their audience's existing beliefs. They reassure them by hammering the world into a shape that suits their prejudices. This is less an information service than a form of cheap massage.

Too much interactivity, commentating and blogging can end up inadvertently doing the same thing. It is cheaper and excitingly faster, but it is not always
a source of light. People shout past each other. They enjoy the sound of their own voices and confirm their own prejudices through the delicious experience of self-publishing. Paradoxically, more becomes less.

I'm in favour of the future, of course. We all have to be. It is coming to get us, whether we like it or not. We have to come to terms with what is going on. More than come to terms — we have to embrace it. But we should spend less time fretting about platforms and more about the loss of honesty in our trade. There is yet to be a proper accounting for the disgraceful loss
of journalistic integrity on both sides of the Atlantic that cheer-led us into the Iraq war on a false prospectus.

No comments: