Emily Litella Journalism

I have a very negative view of journalism nowadays.  However I couldn’t put my finger on why, or express my displeasure in an understandable way.  Today, another person has framed how I feel exactly.

Daniel Eran Dilger runs Roughly Drafted, where he spews his opinions both profound and silly on the world of computing (and sometimes politics).  Today, he wrote about “The iPhone Multi-Touch Patent Myth,” where bloggers and journalists are raising a fuss over what they believe is Apple stifling innovation by patenting the very idea of multi-touch on computing hardware, thus locking out anyone else from using it on their hardware.  As Mr. Dilger points out, Apple patented specific ways multi-touch can be used on a computing interface, not the very idea of multi-touch itself.  Thus he exposes these”journalists” as merely uninformed individuals spewing misinformation and half-baked opinions, just like the SNL character Emily Litella.

But the gem of the article, the part that really hit home, was his summary of journalism as it is now:

Back when we only had a few channels and news came out daily written on paper, we had editors with journalistic integrity who looked over what their writers said in order to prevent their publication from being shamed out of business. Today, with web traffic earning impressions per eyeball, there’s no shame in printing profoundly uninformed conjecture or even straight up lies, because it can supposedly be corrected at some point in the future, doubling the potential for inadvertent audience ad clicks.

Look at the Fox News website, using opinion-littered headlines like “Senators Reach Tentative Deal on More Than $800B Economic ‘Spendulus’ Bill“, or politically leaning websites like Huffington Post, Town Hall, or Reason (sorry Surly).   True journalism is dying.  This is the age of the eye-grabbing headline, the opinionated rant, the click-generating controversy.  Each article designed to be grabbed by the avid forum poster and spread through the internet forums with the proclimation “SEE! THIS IS FACT” when it obviously is not.

I used to trust one source for my information.  I used to believe that if I read something from ABC, CBS, Reuters, AP, et. al. that it was a fair and unbiased reporting of the matter.  I no longer have  that trust.  I feel obliged to read at least 3-4 takes on the matter from both obviously biased and not-so-obviously biased sources in order to hash out what I feel is the real story.

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