On the Print Media

Here is something that has been on my mind for a long time. I have the luxury in my job that I am required to keep very up to date with the news. As such, I manage to read the online versions of two or three papers a day. Not Robinson Crusoe there I am sure. Newspapers used to allow journalists to go deeper into stories and provide the level of rational and impartial analysis that television shows like A Current Affair could not even imagine. The only television shows that come close to this opportunity are “Insiders” on the ABC, “Q and A” on the ABC, “Four Corners” on the ABC and “Sunday” (now defunct but previously on Channel 9).
How poorly served are we as a society with the quality of news and current affairs reporting we get. Sadly, the print media (online included) has sunk to the subterranean depths once only plumbed by tabloid television.
What has happened to the real investigative journalists that would wear out some shoe leather all over the city trying to dig out the truth? What has happened to the Ed Morrows of this world? Instead, today’s journalists have resorted to whistleblowers and “gotcha” journalism instead of this important work and comment and editorials instead of unbiased analysis.
When our politicians lie to us, most of us are smart enough to see it for what it is. But we also expect our journalists to be similarly smart. Is that asking too much? Is it asking too much that all those presumptuous and eager brains with an over-developed sense of entitlement and under-developed sense of right and wrong be more strongly guided by their sub-editors? Unfortunately, I think we are asking too much.
This ability to not only report on society but to shift and shape it is a powerful responsibility and nothing represents this better than the manufactured argument around global warming. I won’t get into that here as another future post will deal with that, but to give equal space to some of those who do not believe in it and then bury their reasons for their particular view (considered eccentrics, funded by big oil, etc) on page 18 is duplicitous.
The fourth estate has, now and always, been about delivering the news and making money, not necessarily in that order. An institution that was once capable of exposing great crimes of conscience by the high and mighty has now become a pack of self-serving wolves who are undaunted in their search of the Truth or a good story, whichever is more convenient and financially more rewarding at the time.
Because the public is just smart enough to know its being sold sausages full of breadcrumbs half the time, they are moving away from traditional print media and onto online publications like “Crikey” and visual products like the Colbert Report and its contemporaries. As a result of this, pay-walls have come into existence and behind these are more rabid, poorly researched and biased stories designed not so much to get to the bottom of things but to rent your eyeballs long enough to justify their advertising rates.
Well sorry, media barons various, but increasingly I will be looking elsewhere.


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