Saturday, May 18, 2013
The Newsroom Speech 4:44
Good day Cyberspace! I hope that the day has found you well and that you are making the most of it. I hope that you have taken a moment to watch the above video; it's only 4:44 long and it's extremely relative to the point I want to make today. That point? That "news" or "journalism" is no longer about informing the public, sharing information and educating the masses. No. It is all about fear, propaganda and useless dribble to keep us occupied.
I spend a lot of time on social media. I use the many popular platforms that most use to stay in touch and to stay informed. I use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Blogspot, Wordpress, Foursquare, Tumblr and others less frequently that aren't worth mentioning. While my primary use is to stay connected to friends and family, it is also a great way to keep current on local, national and global events. I am saddened that each day it seems I waste more and more of my time on useless information.
I'm not just talking about those pinnacles of trash news TV like FOX or CNN; no I'm talking about almost every single publication and news media outlet there is. Nobody is willing to write the important stuff; no one is willing to step out of the crowd and go against the grain; no one is willing to be honest...or at least not many. Anytime there is a breaking news story these days it always seems that every news outlet is on the same page; why? Is there no one willing to offer an opinion that differs from the status quo?
I am sure there are many fine journalists out there with the greatest of integrity who are willing to ignore the slights, the slurs and the unpopularity of speaking out with some truth. I know they exist because I have met them. Locally there is one particular individual who, with every hard hitting investigative article, is not afraid to speak their truth; who is not afraid to rub the crowd the wrong way; who stands by their work and defends it yet is still humble enough to acknowledge mistakes. Tim Bousquet of The Coast, you are one of what I consider the few remaining true journalists and I applaud you. Another up and coming such journalist that I hope will maintain her integrity is Hilary Beaumont.
But that's not enough. The news shouldn't be who Justin Bieber is dating today; what the sex of Kim Kardashian's baby will be; what Snooki's baby name should be; or anything at all to do with entertainment. The news is not entertainment; it is information (or supposed to be). The news is meant to engage and inform. It is to hold the people who sit in positions of authority, power and control responsible for their actions. The news is not an advertising agency nor is it a public relations firm for the government; the news is the defender of the people...or it's supposed to be.
So I read the news less and pay less attention to the feeds; not because I don't care or I'm apathetic but because so often now one article is the same as the next which is the same as the next, etc., etc., etc. I'm no journalist, I found that out the hard way when I took a shot at writing some stories, and that's OK by me but I do what news is; I do know what important news is and I don't see it all that much anymore. Jumping on a bandwagon is not news; reprinting the same information about the same story for days on end without anything new but opinion and speculation is not news; anything to do with Hollywood, also not news.
Journalism and news media are the real last line of defense for any group of citizens. The news is meant to be independent of influence and control because it is meant to be an agent for the people. An agent who carries one of the greatest responsibilities, perhaps greater than that of any government: to keep an informed and engaged public aware.
So if you didn't watch the video I strongly urge you to return to the top and watch it. This is the sort of honesty we need from our journalists and reporters. This is the type of brutal truths we need to start hearing as a public to be motivated and inspired to effect real positive change. Public apathy can be overcome and you, the news reporter, you have that power.