Monday, August 24, 2009

The cure for media, newspapers, and trust

I hear/read more and more about how newspapers, and the news in-general, are crumbling financially. And even more so, people no longer 'trust the media.' Evidently, Walter Cronkite took trust to the grave with him. I start to giggle when I see people get REALLY up-tight that Jon Stewart is now 'the most trusted news giver.' Actually, it's always conservatives that are up-tight...

I laugh because ANYONE who has ever been interviewed knows that misquotes, undesired spin, and slander are expected on everything from the Iraqi war to 'how my neighbor's cat got stuck in a tree.' Just because journalists seem to be held to some standard higher than 7th grade gossip doesn't mean it's happening!! "The news" and meteorologists go to the same school (sic), "Give them just enough truth so that you can't be ignored, but be wrong often enough to never be trusted."

So here's my quick-and-easy solution: attach the audio or video of the interview. Super easy. One can even use YouTube for free.

I predict this will not be done for a few reasons, none of them financial/storage related:
1) the public will get to see what a total moron the journalist is (cf. the absurd John Stossel and other national, talking-heads) by listening to the incredibly useless questions and follow-ups
2) the public will get to see what a total moron the journalist is (cf. the fully incapable John Stossel and other national, talking-heads) when we read/listen to the journalist's synopsis of the whole interview
3) the public will see just how much the 'objective' journalist is fully 'subjective' (seriously, do people really think any journalist is 'objective'?!?!)
- actually, this is a great reason to publish the whole interview. Jon Stewart makes it obvious that he has a political/philosophical bend. I 'trust' him to be biased so I can 'un-spin' what he's saying to fit my tastes as needed. I, then, 'trust' Jon Stewart as a journalist because I know his biases as he does not hide them. It's the fake 'objectivity' that makes me not trust journalists!

Basically, publishing full interviews will make clear whether or not I want to ever read/listen-to a given journalist. But that kind of clarity will destroy the careers of MANY journalists. So I suspect this will never happen. As long as this 'trust' issue remains in-tension (i.e. is NOT resolved), inept journalism will continue as-is.

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