October 19, 2007 Archives
I have poked fun at the weaknesses of TV news, but this book might give you the false impression that all journalists are morons, since the authors of It Ain't Necessarily So provide example after example of cases in which journalists seem to fail in their goal of presenting the news objectively and fairly.
I don't think that we need to ascribe sinister motives to every instance where a journalist makes a mistake, but IANS has a good discussion about the gate-keeping function of the traditional suppliers of news. You guys have already heard me talk about how the blogosphere has changed the role of the gate-keepers, who used to be able to bury a story by not following up on it. Now, bloggers who get upset about a small news item can make it big.
Consider that Newsweek spiked the story that broke big news about Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, but Matt Drudge went ahead with the story on his blog. Or, consider that Trent Lott made comments that were decried as racially insensitive during a 100 year birthday party for Strom Thurmond, and that The Washington Post and other members of the established press did not publish the remarks in question (in which Lott noted that Thurmond once ran for the presidency on a pro-segregation, and suggested the country would be better off if he had in fact won). But bloggers who heard about it made a fuss, which resulted in Lott's resignation form a high-profile spokesman position in the Senate though he stayed on as a senator).