The last two weeks has been, for me, a complete bombardment of extremely poor journalism emanating from every media outlet. It’s not the topic of the news but rather how the stories and facts are, or not, being delivered without bias, sensationalism, or down right lies.
All the news about this war is crammed through too many filters to be of any real value as a source of information. I’m surprised that on this gig, the reporters not the producers, editors, or censors, share some blame for molding their reports into convenient packages for consumer consumption.
Peter Arnett is the perfect example. Shortly after being fired by two American media companies and then hired by the leading British anti-war newspaper; Arnett’s tone and reports changed to meet the demands of his new audience. It took Peter exactly one day to change his whole persona! That’s fine if he had just been fired from management position at Enron, but Peter is a journalist who’s work ethic should have prevented the whole situation.
Journalist are supposed to report events as they unfold, as they have been observed. When a reporter starts to add bias and his/her own thinking to the story, it stops being news and becomes commentary.
Like I need someone to do the thinking part for me.
I want raw data — who, what, when, and where. I want to see statistics that I can compare with similar, or historical data. Don’t tell me how the war is going, give me tables of data to help compare this conflict with others. Give me percentages of increase or decreases based off year to year figures or event to event figures. I want live first person accounts that haven’t been edited.
Give me the data and I’ll do my own thinking if you don’t mind.
Dave Winer (the blogfather) made a $1000 bet with Martin Nisenholtz (CEO, New York Times Digital) that blogs, or amateur journalist will help resolve the Gerber Babynews problem. Dave writes, “We’re returning to what I call amateur journalism: created for the love of writing, without expectation of financial compensation. Informed people will look to amateurs they trust for information they want.”
It’s already happening. Consider Where is Raed?, a blog written by a young Iraqi who has written first person accounts of the war in Iraq. It has become a primary source of news that has been validated and considered trust worthy.
Imagine what this war would look like from a news standpoint if we had a hundreds of Raeds on both sides of the conflict or any major news event.
Down with the corporate police car chase sensationalism! I want my reports from the people who were really there, not some pretty head who’s sitting on top of a hotel and two countries down from where the news is actually happening.