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The History of Journalism
October 21st 2005, 17:17 CEST by Jibble

No leading questions in this topic, I just wanted to have an interesting and engaging discussion. The recently released Good Night, and Good Luck details Edward R. Murrow's hard news stories that resulted in the censure of Joseph McCarthy, who at the time was calling everyone and anyone a pinko commie if they crossed his path.

In relation to the old days, what do you think of the current state of Journalism? Why do you think it is the way it is? Are you happy with the information you're getting? If you believe there's something wrong, what do you think can fix it? Is there some new technology on the horizon that might make things better, or is there one available now that's not being used to its fullest?

What do you think?
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#1 by Gabe
2005-10-21 17:20:16
http://www.dartpublishing.com
An article that seems to claim that Murrow's influence in the McCarthy takedown is overstated.
#2 by Matt Perkins
2005-10-21 17:20:20
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Will it work though, that's the questions.

"I stand with Comrade Kwango in saying that these are bastards." - Kun Suk Tang
#3 by Jibble
2005-10-21 17:22:30
Okay, I guess I'll kick this one off. Murrow was an interesting case that seems to apply quite a bit today. If he wanted to do a hard news story, he'd have to pay for it by doing a load of human interest things. Entertainment interviews and what not. His views on television in general seemed fairly spot on as far as where it would go.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box."

It's odd how that also seems to apply to new technologies that have come along since television. The masses seem to want entertainment, and that drowns out the need for illumination.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#4 by LPMiller
2005-10-21 17:25:42
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
that implies people don't want to be illuminated, which isn't true.  People just have a set amount of illumination they want in a day, and it's different for everybody.

"Testiculos habet et bene pendentes" "He has testicles, and they dangle nicely."
#5 by Jibble
2005-10-21 17:30:27
that implies people don't want to be illuminated, which isn't true.  People just have a set amount of illumination they want in a day, and it's different for everybody.

I'll see that and raise you a bucket theory. Within those set amounts, I think people want to be illuminated to different things. Whereas I feast upon the Plame trial and want to know everything about it, others may take that hunger to a different bucket filled with tidbits on celebrities or sports.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#6 by Jibble
2005-10-21 17:36:04
I guess the other question is whether a true hard news show would survive under current pressures. I'd say that The Daily Show fills the gap in an obscure kind of way, as they tend to bring a very clear opinion to a head and poke it at things by using actual quotes and clips. It feels a lot like the news cycle is the real killer...used to be you could sit down and get all the news in one place at one time (TV or the paper). Now it's too much information and it's not very well sorted.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#7 by Matt Perkins
2005-10-21 17:37:48
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
As for the topic though...

Journalism is in complete shambles.  I don't know if the good old days of journalism ever existed, but all mainstream press is a complete joke.  And I say all with the specific knowledge that generalizations are almost always wrong.  The media is owned by companies that are looking to make big money.  You don't do that by pissing of the government or the people buying commercial spots.  And Journalists in general like to be involved, so they don't challenge enough.  Until Katrina, did we see any journalists asking the real questions?  At all?  I didn't.  The aftermath of Katrina is a very small ray of hope...


In a related matter note, I listened to this interview yesterday while driving around.  It made me very sad.  Robert Fisk talks about the wars he has covered and the coverage of Iraq and how essentially we don't see what's happening on the inside at all...makes it sounds like it's going to collapse, the whole country.  I don't know if that's true, but it's pretty evident he believes it.

(excerpt)

AMY GOODMAN: And that is, you've covered the Israeli invasions of Lebanon, the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq war, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Gulf war, wars in Algeria, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the invasion and occupation of Iraq--

ROBERT FISK: Enough, enough, enough.

AMY GOODMAN: What gives you hope? What gives you hope?

ROBERT FISK: (very long pause) Nothing. Im sorry. Nothing. Im sorry. Nothing at the moment. Ordinary people, I guess. Ordinary people who speak out. People in the Arab world as well. But in terms of governments, nothing much. I may be wrong. I may be too much of a pessimist because I've seen too much.


"I stand with Comrade Kwango in saying that these are bastards." - Kun Suk Tang
#8 by Matt Perkins
2005-10-21 17:40:07
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
I'm in complete agreement that lots of people don't want to be told how fucked up things really are...   I don't know why that is, but it's pretty evident.

"I stand with Comrade Kwango in saying that these are bastards." - Kun Suk Tang
#9 by Matt Perkins
2005-10-21 17:44:17
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
This is the other problem...  I don't know much about Murrow, but that Slate link suggests he felt it was his responsibility to cover the news, to stand against the wrongs as he saw them...  Other than John Stewart, who does that now days on TV?  And John is way to easy on lots of guesses because he wants to stick to being funny, not hard hitting I guess.

Murrow confessed his tardiness in taking on McCarthy, according to an interview Gould gave to Edwin R. Bayley for his 1981 book, Joe McCarthy and the Press. "My God," he recalls Murrow saying. "I didn't do anything. [Times columnist] Scotty Reston and lot of guys have been writing like this, saying the same things, for months, for years. We're bringing up the rear."


"I stand with Comrade Kwango in saying that these are bastards." - Kun Suk Tang
#10 by yotsuya
2005-10-21 17:45:13
Until Katrina, did we see any journalists asking the real questions?  At all?  I didn't.  The aftermath of Katrina is a very small ray of hope...

On the flip side, I think it's interesting how some people were fascinated by the Katrina coverage and ate up every story as truth, even though it has slowly been coming out that a lot of it might be exaggeration.

"It's only make-believe until it becomes flim-flam."
#11 by LPMiller
2005-10-21 17:45:14
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
no, it's not.  It seems to make you feel better though.

"Testiculos habet et bene pendentes" "He has testicles, and they dangle nicely."
#12 by LPMiller
2005-10-21 17:45:33
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
not you, him.

"Testiculos habet et bene pendentes" "He has testicles, and they dangle nicely."
#13 by yotsuya
2005-10-21 17:46:12
Who?

"It's only make-believe until it becomes flim-flam."
#14 by bago
2005-10-21 17:56:45
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Journalism has always been in shambles. Now that the internet lets you get data without going through the gate of "responsible journalists" you can see that. I remember the first time I noticed the difference between the impression a TV news story gave and the actual event when CNN covered my city flooding.

The need for an ever-fresh selection of euphemisms about dirty subjects has long served as an impressive engine of linguistic invention.
#15 by Jibble
2005-10-21 18:07:53
Other than John Stewart, who does that now days on TV?  And John is way to easy on lots of guesses because he wants to stick to being funny, not hard hitting I guess.

I think people want the truth, but many only want it if it's presented in an entertaining manner. Stewart makes horrible things funny. C-SPAN makes horrible things boring. O'Reilley makes horrible things worse. I think a lot of the problem lies with the "first-on-the-scene" mentality, which Stewart made fun of the other night.

"Network news: We have CAMERAS!"

The lack of reliable and pertinent information stops a real reporter dead in their tracks. Now it's something they feel they can just fill in later. On things like a fire or a flood I can see them wanting to have the pictures first, but it comes at the cost of reliable journalism. You can't check your facts if you're just asking some random person who's stuck out on the street with no food or water. You're just reporting rumor at that point.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#16 by jjohnsen
2005-10-21 18:09:16
http://www.johnsenclan.com
There are examples of good journalism, McCarthy and Watergate are two I can think of.  But it dosn't seem like it's a consistent thing, some journalist gets a bug up his ass and reports a real in depth story, then you may go months and it seems like all journalists are talking about BRAD and ANGELINA MAY ADOPT A ChILD!!!!!  

The other problem for me is knowing what journalists I can trust.  Someone may link to an article by a journalist I don't reconize and right aways I have no idea if this person is a mouthpiece for the Left, Right or even the terrorists.

A brilliant, fertile Italian once said something that I think sums up modern journalism nicely, which is too bad.
       l   l   l   l   l
       l              l
       l              l
   _ _l              l__
   \                    /
     \                 /
      \              /
       \           /
         \       /
           \   /
             V

Actually, the liberalism of the media - as a general thing - IS a major fallacy. What the media is, is a whore.  -LP
#17 by yotsuya
2005-10-21 18:12:11
What do you think about the networks trying to actively recruit the-man-on-the-street-with-a-camcorder to submit anything they find newsworthy. Is it a good thing, or just laziness.

"It's only make-believe until it becomes flim-flam."
#18 by jjohnsen
2005-10-21 18:14:08
http://www.johnsenclan.com
I love the first 15 minutes of the Daily Show, but most the interviews are lacking.  Those first 15 minutes usually seem more truthful than an hour of regular cable news though.

What do you think about the networks trying to actively recruit the-man-on-the-street-with-a-camcorder to submit anything they find newsworthy. Is it a good thing, or just laziness.

I doubt is pays much.

Actually, the liberalism of the media - as a general thing - IS a major fallacy. What the media is, is a whore.  -LP
#19 by yotsuya
2005-10-21 18:16:13
I don't think it pays anything. I think it's more of a prestige thing.

"Wow! There's MY footage on the news!"

"It's only make-believe until it becomes flim-flam."
#20 by Gunp01nt
2005-10-21 18:19:43
supersimon33@hotmail.com
#14 bago
Journalism has always been in shambles. Now that the internet lets you get data without going through the gate of "responsible journalists" you can see that.


Whoa there, let's not start pretending the internet is a trustworthy news source.

You fuck with Infogrames and you get a visit from Big Pierre, who rearranges your kneecaps with a week-old baguette.
 - Mr. Nutty
#21 by Jibble
2005-10-21 18:22:35
I get the feeling that the man-on-the-street thing is a way for networks to try and distance themselves from the opinion of the public of them as an uncaring conglomerate. The "We want to know what you think" movement was ushered in by the public at large, who seem to feel that news men are too smart for them.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#22 by Hugin
2005-10-21 18:24:34
lmccain@nber.org
Olberman is probably the closest thing to a "real" version of Jon Stewart.  Kind of funny, calls the bad guys on their bullshit.
#23 by Gunp01nt
2005-10-21 18:30:12
supersimon33@hotmail.com
Lost spoof set to the Weird Al rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.

You fuck with Infogrames and you get a visit from Big Pierre, who rearranges your kneecaps with a week-old baguette.
 - Mr. Nutty
#24 by yotsuya
2005-10-21 18:32:25
I wonder what effect the countless bloggers and podcasters who want to be the "the next big thing" has had. You know the traditional media is now paying attention to them.

"It's only make-believe until it becomes flim-flam."
#25 by bago
2005-10-21 18:34:42
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
The internet is great if you know how to use it properly.

Some story comes out, and the partisans on both sides attack it with an amazing ferocity. Whatever survives attacks from both sides is probably true.

The need for an ever-fresh selection of euphemisms about dirty subjects has long served as an impressive engine of linguistic invention.
#26 by Jibble
2005-10-21 18:36:14
I think blogging is the new generation's "man on the street" reporting. Everyone has an opinion, and what better place to have it seen and heard than on the Internet? Those that bring reliable and pertinent information rise above the others and end up on aggregators in much the same way a news man might interview dozens of people on the street, but only show one on the nightly news.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#27 by Jibble
2005-10-21 18:37:39
It falls back to a gatekeeper issue. Blogs are like Public Access TV. Anyone can get in there and produce something, but it doesn't mean anyone is listening.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#28 by yotsuya
2005-10-21 18:38:51
Good point, Jibble.

"It's only make-believe until it becomes flim-flam."
#29 by Ergo
2005-10-21 18:40:34
That is a good point, considering I can count how many blogs I regularly visit with no hands.

Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
DVDs
#30 by Jibble
2005-10-21 18:41:27
It's interesting to see the Brian Williams blog out there. When he posts in his blog, it's very personal, and he talks about things he might not talk about on-air. He's critical and opinionated.

It's nice, but you almost feel like it can't go on TV because it's editorializing.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#31 by jjohnsen
2005-10-21 18:41:31
http://www.johnsenclan.com
Olberman is probably the closest thing to a "real" version of Jon Stewart.  Kind of funny, calls the bad guys on their bullshit.

Yeah, I don't think I went to MSNBC once until crooksandliars.com started linking Olberman video.  He seems really good.  I watched one of his shws last week that examined each time the threat level had gone up to Orange, and how it seemed to correlate to bad things happening a few days earlier to the Bush administration.  Once or twice seemed like they could be random, but by the time he was hitting seven or eight it seemed right on.

Actually, the liberalism of the media - as a general thing - IS a major fallacy. What the media is, is a whore.  -LP
#32 by LPMiller
2005-10-21 18:43:45
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
people seem to think there was some golden age of journalism - there never was. For the most part, what happens today always has. I mean, ask William Randolph Hearst. Hell, as much as the Aliens and Sedition act was a terrible thing, part of it was born from the fact that journalism at the time, much like today, was more concerned with selling papers than anything. It has bright spots, but for the most part it's always about selling something.

Hell, WWII news coverage was pretty much just rah rah Allies.

People think media attempts to set opinion.  Media believes it tries to respond to what the public wants. Both are true, and not true. Yes, media responds when ratings go up because of M. Jackson - but who doesn't gawk at a traffic accident? It's in our nature. And yeah, media tries to tell us things they think are important, and it has a slant - but then, that's part of news, too. Who what where when and WHY. Part of why is sometimes, why should you care?

Then it comes to people. Someone scans the paper about the woman who throws her kids into the ocean, and that's all they think about all day. Another sees that one of the defense lawyers in iraq was killed, and that's what he gabs about at work. A third is bent out of shape about Katrina. A fourth guy glances at the paper, mutters, "Yep, world still sucks," then reads Blondie. Then we all go home and bitch that CNN seems to be covering nothing but Bird Flu. Well, it may seem that way, but I dunno how anyone really say that when we all seem to have different focuses and different things that have grabbed our attention. Hell, media has to cover so many things, it's just natural they will drop the ball here, and seem 'redeemed' there. It's all bullshit, though. Media is a whore, and we are the johns with different kinks depending on our mood and how life is treating us. I'm not going to care about Tom Delay if Bird Flu is what is making me hard that day.

Back in the day, the sources were limited, so they tended to cover the same things - but then, so much got lost. People will hear about a teacher beaten with a baseball bat and say, "why is this happening NOW, we suck, end of days, WAHHHH!" But back in the day, the teacher was page 3 after Nukes and Commies. Nothing has changed, other than a geometric progression in whores trying to get you to pick them up. Suddenly, some some whores are offering blow jobs while others are offering up anal. Variety. It's the spice of life, but it tends to destroy focus, or any kind of unity in overall world knowledge.

Media could focus better on a handful of things, but so much else would get lost again. On the other hand, having 2 billion eyes reviewing 2 billion things, and everything kind of gets watered down. I dunno that there is a good way to do it, or a real solution, but that's where we are.

"Testiculos habet et bene pendentes" "He has testicles, and they dangle nicely."
#33 by yotsuya
2005-10-21 18:44:32
I can count how many blogs I regularly visit with no hands.

Same here.

"It's only make-believe until it becomes flim-flam."
#34 by Jibble
2005-10-21 18:51:07
Excellent points, LP.

I have to wonder if it would be better if everyone liked missionary style sex, resulting in a fully informed populace on major social issues.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#35 by yotsuya
2005-10-21 18:53:16
Wait, I take that back. I do go to this blog to see if they've revolutionized the food industry. Not yet, apparently.

"It's only make-believe until it becomes flim-flam."
#36 by bago
2005-10-21 18:57:23
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Congratulations, you news is no longer only spoon-fed to you. It's now your responsibility to be informed. Push vs pull, etc.

The need for an ever-fresh selection of euphemisms about dirty subjects has long served as an impressive engine of linguistic invention.
#37 by Matt Perkins
2005-10-21 19:32:58
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
LP, I think you give the media way to much credit...way to much credit.

Also, as a journalist on CNN, for instance, shouldn't your job be to call people on the bullshit?  Not to spend your days in small towns in whatever coast is getting hit by the next Hurricane?  "Looks, it's windy here too!"

The TV media is just looking for the next big drama....the next thing they can get ratings from.  And real stories are controversial, can cost advertisers, and will cause conflicts with the white house, which will severly limit their stories (as way to many mass media stories are white house press releases).  So by definition, stories become things which either every news source is reporting so, so it's safe, or which have nothing to do politics or corporations.  


Congratulations, you news is no longer only spoon-fed to you. It's now your responsibility to be informed. Push vs pull, etc.

This I agree with, but I don't like it.  It means those that aren't aware they need to pull, or don't know how to pull, or are just plain stuck in their ways will only get the crap material.  Annoying.

"I stand with Comrade Kwango in saying that these are bastards." - Kun Suk Tang
#38 by wingwalker
2005-10-21 19:38:14
When I was living in the U.S, I got so fed up with headline style news (flash with no content or background) that I bought a short wave radio and got my news from the CBC and the BBC. My main gripe with CNN, Fox ect was their style or reporting. The tendancy was to deliver the sensationalize headline followed by their opinion of it. I like my news to be delivered with enough background so that I can actually form my own opinion, not have an opinion made for me. I also like having enough information delivered to feel that I am informed on the situation or event.
#39 by bago
2005-10-21 19:41:10
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Dominatrix needs data badly!

The need for an ever-fresh selection of euphemisms about dirty subjects has long served as an impressive engine of linguistic invention.
#40 by Penguinx
2005-10-21 19:43:00
Information should inform? Next you'll claim that cars should have engines!

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
#41 by wingwalker
2005-10-21 19:48:31
Exactly my point. Information should inform. How informed can one be with no background to make you understand the whys and wherefores?
#42 by TheTrunkDr.
2005-10-21 19:52:44
When I was living in the U.S, I got so fed up with headline style news (flash with no content or background) that I bought a short wave radio and got my news from the CBC and the BBC. My main gripe with CNN, Fox ect was their style or reporting. The tendancy was to deliver the sensationalize headline followed by their opinion of it. I like my news to be delivered with enough background so that I can actually form my own opinion, not have an opinion made for me. I also like having enough information delivered to feel that I am informed on the situation or event.

Having recently moved to the US, this is exactly my feeling! I get my news from NPR, The Daily Show and Howard freakin Stern!!! NPR is actually pretty decent at keeping opinion out of their news reports, though I do sometimes find their reports a little short on details. I use to listen to Air America occasionally but I really can't stand the BS from either the left or the right. Extermist opinions in general turn me off, even if I might agree with the idea they present.
#43 by Penguinx
2005-10-21 19:55:56
I listen to NPR and stream Democracy Now at work. The rest is gleamed from the intarweb or the Daily Show.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
#44 by McBain
2005-10-21 19:58:46
I listen to a lot of NPR.  BBC America has a good news program.  I read the New York Times and Washington Post a lot.  And then there are the secondary sources like blogs, The Daily Show, and Al Franken.

Kid: Because you went to the bathroom on mommy's dishes?
Willie: What the fuck? No!
#45 by Ergo
2005-10-21 19:59:28
I get all my news from the local newspaper and NPR.

Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
DVDs
#46 by Greg
2005-10-21 20:06:52
Local TV and radio media tend to be way less sensational on actual important stories ("Blizzard of the Century" and "How to lose 50 pounds in 5 days" don't count) than channels such as Fox News and CNN. They have to be, mainly because the allotment of time devoted to covering such stories generally is small, compared to the 24 hour channels that do nothing but cover the same event over and over and over and over. Those channels are trying to entice the user to stay on the channel; they tend to shed journalistic integrity in order to accomplish that goal.

I'm not comparing newspapers, because I'm illiterate and I don't read them often. (Not that I watch the local news much either, but it doesn't take a PhD to be able to do a comparative analysis of the local ABC news vs. Fox News)

こんにちは
#47 by LPMiller
2005-10-21 20:08:01
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
LP, I think you give the media way to much credit...way to much credit.


I see reading comprehension still isn't your strong suit.

I wasn't giving them any credit, hippie. I call them whores, how is that giving them credit?

"Testiculos habet et bene pendentes" "He has testicles, and they dangle nicely."
#48 by Matt Perkins
2005-10-21 20:08:36
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
I listen to NPR and also stream Democracy Now...  DM is a really good show.  They do often get some kooks on and take them at their word, but as often as not, they are covering news other places won't/can't.  Amy Goodman for life!

I also watch The Daily Show and hit various news sites on the web from time to time.

"I stand with Comrade Kwango in saying that these are bastards." - Kun Suk Tang
#49 by Dumdeedum
2005-10-21 20:25:26
http://www.dumdeedum.com
I quickly scan the BBC news website a couple of times a day, beyond that I don't bother paying much attention to the news - it always seems to be the same stuff whether I read it or not, so I figure there's better things I could be doing.

As to whether journalism is getting better or worse or whatever; I don't know to be honest, how do you judge journalism?  Number of facts reported later proved true?  Number of facts reported out of total number of facts?  Number of facts reported that bolstered my worldview?

Guest MP3 Of The Week: The Herbalizer - Goldrush.mp3 (Thanks Marsh!)
#50 by jjohnsen
2005-10-21 20:36:08
http://www.johnsenclan.com
I listen to NPR and Al Franken for my news.  Al Franken admits he wants to crsuh the right, but he seems to be pretty factual, adding his opinion to the fact.  The rest of Air America are raving loons, they are the left version of screaming "Clinton Killed Vince Foster!".

I like the local newspaper, but local tv news around here sucks, it's on the far right and mostly sticks to stories about kittens being rescued from trees.

Actually, the liberalism of the media - as a general thing - IS a major fallacy. What the media is, is a whore.  -LP
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