Originally posted 2014-06-26 06:32:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
“If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.” – Martin Blank, Grosse Pointe Blank.
“I regret that, in our attempt to establish some standards, we didn’t make them stick. We couldn’t find a way to pass them on to another generation, really.” – Walter Cronkite
It’s probably a good thing that Walter Cronkite is dead.
And I say that with nothing but the utmost respect for what is possibly the greatest news man, reporter, and anchor that this world has ever seen.
Because, candidly, if he weren’t already dead…what the “news” has become in today’s world would likely cause him to stroke out…
We now live in a world where most reporters cannot be respected. They cannot be trusted. They cannot be relied upon to deliver facts.
Their job is no longer to deliver accurate, fact-checked content that the public at large can rely upon to be true – their job now is to get ratings, to deliver salacious headlines and to be that idiot on every message board who posts “FIRST!” and then walks away.
I realize that this may come as a shock to some of you reading this, but once upon a time, we didn’t have a 24 hour a day news cycle. There was no such thing as CNN. Or CNN Headline News. Or CNN Panty Watch or whatever other stupid crap they’ve launched most recently. It didn’t exist. If you wanted to catch the news, then you either read the morning paper or sat your ass down somewhere between 5pm and 7pm and you watched the news on one of three channels. The news that had been put together, fact checked, and then double checked before it went on the air or out in print because people trusted the names behind those stories. The news when everyone and their brother knew that JFK was nailing Marilyn Monroe, but it never saw a piece of ink or a second of newsreel because it was considered unsavory to talk about such things and there was a respect for the office of the President that was not to be broken.
But then CNN happened, and it all came crashing down. Because CNN led to MSNBC, which led to FOX News. And then it got so bad that CNN had to do what MTV did, in that they had to launch a whole new network to do what the original network was supposed to do – show actual news reports instead of talking heads and other filler. Because if you’re on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…well, there’s not actually something newsworthy happening every moment of every day and so you have to…oh god dammit, there’s a CNN International and CNN Airport network, too?! What in the hell…
And then along came TMZ, and the Doomsday Clock to Total Stupidity ticked and tocked closer to Dumbageddon.
Congratulations, Harvey Levin – you’re single-handedly making the opening of Idiocracy come true.
Because now if you walk up to the average person on the street today, they probably can’t tell you where we have troops deployed overseas, but they can tell you when Miley Cyrus last flashed her hooch at a red carpet event. They won’t be able to tell you what the Bill of Rights are, let alone the actual 10 Amendments (and no, “keep yer hands offa mah guns!” is not an actual Amendment…) that make them up…but they’ll be able to rattle off at least forty of the names from the latest Maxim Hot 100.
Which happened because newspapers became websites to keep up with the times and the 24/7 news cycle. The evening news programs all had websites that published everything they were going to talk about that night, so what was the point in watching? And then a stupid little site that 98% of the general public hadn’t heard of before broke the Bill Clinton / Monica Lewinsky story, and suddenly the “online news cycle” mattered. A lot.
And so everyone with an internet connection now thought they were “the media” with their stupid blog, and bloggers started trying to act like journalists…but without any of the training about ethics and responsibility and fact checking and sourcing and, you know, things that actually matter. The worst part of it all is that in the rush, the actual news organizations started forcing their reporters to act like bloggers. If it bleeds, it leads. Don’t get scooped by the competition. Publish or perish. Get there first or don’t bother showing up.
Running 24/7 can get pretty expensive, too. Now you’ve got three shifts of people to handle and keep on staff, and so, well, sorry “guy who’s been at that desk for twenty years and has more integrity in his thumb than the rest of the room has collectively” but it’s time for you to go so that your salary can be freed up. Gotta hire three more trained monkeys to copy and paste press releases as “news articles”, after all.
Now, why does this all matter?
Because you have witch hunts that happen after a lesbian waitress in New Jersey claims she didn’t get tipped and instead got a note on the receipt about “her lifestyle”. People were literally hunting down the people involved. And what happened? Turns out it was all a hoax. How did nobody in the media, either locally or nationally, ever once think to ask “Hey, can I see the original receipts?” Because that’s where it all unraveled, and that’s how easy it would have been to keep that firestorm from happening.
Because you have restaurants like Kentucky Fried Chicken getting crucified in the news after reports broke that a three year old girl with facial scars after a pit bull attack was asked to leave. Oh, but wait for it…guess what? Another hoax. Know how they found out? They went and looked at the surveillance video from that store, and the little girl was never even in the store that day. At all. Ever. And yet the family has pocketed over $130,000 in donations. A worker was fired. KFC has had to deal with crappy publicity…because someone wanted a payday, and because we’re living in the world of Not Necessarily The News.
Again, nobody asked “Hey, can we see the video?”
Not one person had that much of a brain?
CNN got a Supreme Court decision wrong. A SUPREME COURT DECISION.
And not to be left out of the fun, FOX news blindly followed right along.
The Boston Marathon bombing…perhaps one of the most important things from a news perspective that’s happened in recent years, had false reports of arrests being made, suspects being incorrectly identified on a nearly constant basis.
Or how about the Newtown shooting where they media identified the wrong brother as the shooter?
And yes, as you know, we’ve had our own issues recently as well.
It’s kind of a sad state of affairs when out of the local Detroit media and news scene, the most reliable source I know of is the Daily Detroit site. Which is a blog.
But it’s a blog run by people who take journalistic integrity seriously, and so when I look at what they do…they may not be the first people to run with a story, but they’re definitely the ones that I go to for the accuracy.
DetNews, Freep, Deadline, WJBK, WXYZ…they’re all there, and I may go to them when I want early speculation or “breaking” news…but not for when it matters.
Because they’re just simply Not Necessarily The News.
Don Henley had it right all the way back in 1982…just two short years after CNN launched and hit the airwaves. How sad is that?
That’s all for this time, go read something else.