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View Diary: Psycho-politico-Ipod-ology (26 comments)

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  •  true on educational issues (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcrp, alizard, andydoubtless

    I believe it is true regarding most issues---which should give everyone pause. We live in a very complex world that is getting more complex every day.  Yet we absorb information from people who may not know much more than we do, and maybe a lot less. As a result of looking to the press as a verifier ("if it wasn't reported in the (insert name of media source here) it didn't happen") we willfully submit to a dubious and dodgy filtration process.  The information you use to plan your family's safety with regard to hurricanes, terrorist strikes and bird flu might have been generated by a twenty-something reporter with a liberal arts background--then filtered through a pliant editor whose primary concerns are the paper's advertisers. That kind of set-up can do more damage to our system of governance than all the terrorists hiding in Afghanistan.

    •  Yes and No (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lcrp
      Yes, we have a very bad media problem. No, I don't think reporter expertise in a particular subject is important at all. The 20-something liberal arts major referred to above ought to be able to cover almost any assignment in a competent manner, given the proper resources.

      Reporting and punditry are very different things, punditry and editing are very different things, and I the author of the diary may have blurred some of those lines. Anyway, at the end of the day you need a decent writer with an inquisitive mind and a lot of determination, multiplied by a dozen or so, to have a functioning newspaper. Bigger paper, maybe a dozen more. AP and Reuters will cover the rest.

      Our media problem is starting to take shape, and what we're seeing is very dark and disconcerting. It's as if we were driving the car on the freeway and after a while we pulled over to the side of the road to investigate an odd noise coming from under the hood. We've opened it up to check the motor and my God where's the engine and what is this rubber-band contraption?

      Industry collusion, ties to administration interests, political concerns in hiring that trump merit, failures in education, shortening attention spans, consumerization - all these things are interconnected and they are all part of why the media is failing its function as the Fourth Estate. We really need a strong and active media now, an investigative tool to shine light into the hidden secrets of our government and expose its mendacity, and this rubber-band thing isn't getting the job done.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

      by The Raven on Mon May 29, 2006 at 02:39:20 AM PDT

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      •  I'm not sure you can even call a journalism degre (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lcrp

        a "liberal arts background."  I don't think it gives reporters the "proper resources" to adequately cover stories.

        Articles appear all the time about economic and historical issues, and it's clear the author of the piece has neither a broad nor a deep understanding of the background.  Think of all the articles you read containing the phrase "the market."  It's clear that the reporters writing these articles know next to nothing about economic theory, or they'd ask as a follow-up:

        "But isn't the ability of 'the market' to rationally structure the economy based on the pre-supposition of perfect information on the part of consumers, and how do you propose to get that information into the hands of consumers?"

        I won't get into all the times we heard about the 38 years Iraq suffered under Saddam's dictatorship.  What about the other 2500 years of their history, when they also suffered under dictators?

        So I think some subject-area knowledge - if not expertise - is important to accurate reporting.  I think it falls in the "failures in education" that you mention.

        It's not a sacrifice to pay more in taxes so our brave boys have what they need, it's a privilege. FDR

        by mississippi scott on Mon May 29, 2006 at 05:52:42 AM PDT

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        •  On "resources" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lcrp, andydoubtless
          Yes, subject area knowledge will definitely assist the reporter in most conceivable cases, I don't dispute that at all. I'm arguing, however, against the misperception that only a reporter with a PhD in economic theory is qualified to report on, say, a speech given by Alan Greenspan. Sure, the PhD would bring a lot more to the table, but that's not really a reporter's job. A columnist, on the other hand, would be tasked with interpreting or contextualizing Greenspan's remarks.

          Concerning resources, my classes in journalism were laughably poor training for working in this field. But then, a degree in journalism is no guarantee that the person who holds it is fit for actual newspaper work. The resources I'm talking about are things like good editors, mentors, time spent on a specific beat, a reference library and a solid rolodex. These enable the gifted reporter to produce sound copy and avoid error.

          Today's newsroom, I'm sad to say, offers few of these elements to the new hire. It's quite likely that some green kid will just be hurled into the daily grind and given minimal direction. A majority of daily papers across the country do not employ copy editors. The layout department just receives raw copy and fits it to the page. This reality is one reason that journalistic standards have fallen so low. It takes a very dedicated group of talented individuals to produce good media.

          Reporters, columnists, pundits, editors - each has a different role and each possesses different skills. Some land their positions through merit, some represent a failure of the system (which should have weeded them out in time - see Gregg Easterbrook's corpus of inanity for examples). Cheers.

          Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

          by The Raven on Mon May 29, 2006 at 07:10:58 AM PDT

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          •  Journalist's education, or education generally (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lcrp

            Here's what I'd add to this debate on whether journalists receive the proper training to be able to inform the public intelligently about the world.

            Is the problem we locate one specifically of how we train journalists, or does it more generally reflect the degradation of the U.S. education system over the last century?

            Is this weakness among the journalistic class the inevitable result of an education system where history, geography and the hard sciences are devalued? Isn't the reduced competence of the journalistic profession part and parcel of that decline? If the normal American can't name the past ten presidents, doesn't that ignorance filter into the population that comprises our journalists?

            Likewise, I think the problem of journalists not preparing and not doing research and not informing themselves aren't culturally isolated, but also reflect a society where looking for knowledge is a chore to be avoided when possible and shirked when necessary.

            Increasingly, staples of the main-stream media such as the New York Times and CNN are becoming little more than transcribers of press releases, the direct analogue of the "stenographers" (ironically enough) Maureen Dowd so eloquently inveighed against in her takedown of Judy Miller.

    •  a quick smell test (0+ / 0-)

      See how the news source covers something you're expert in. If they fuck up completely, you may now wonder how they cover subject areas you are NOT expert in.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Mon May 29, 2006 at 07:36:32 PM PDT

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