Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The End of Journalism

This post over at makes some rather interesting observations:

It has become all too easy to shrug off the decline of legitimate news organizations and "old-fashioned" print media as the Internet and direct and digital cable TV expand by leaps and bounds. But the fact that we've reduced real news and truth to a consumer commodity subject to ratings and sales poses a threat to our freedom that is mostly ignored.
and here's how this threat has manifested itself:
[Rupert] Murdoch [owner of News Corp.] operates most of his major media properties at a loss, slashing ad rates and subscribers rates in order to drive the less well financed family-owned and journalist-owned properties into oblivion. That's his goal with The New York Times. Decades ago news outlets competed with each other through their ability to deliver the best information first, quality of writing and quality of investigative journalism. Today, the Murdoch's of the world have radically changed the paradigm forcing news outlets to compete as business entities mostly through advertising revenue. And with his deep pockets, Murdoch always has the advantage. Murdoch does not see his broadcast and print news ventures as a means to enhance the provision of free information to a free people, Murdoch rather uses his former news and information properties to propagandize his various political agenda--the anti-gay one for example--both through the dissemination of lies and the diversion of circus-like entertainment. And he's brilliant at this. Murdoch has done more damage to American democracy and freedom than a dozen George W. Bushes could ever hope to accomplish.
Why is this so important? Because without a free press there will be no one watching government. Those in a position of power will be able to abuse that power because no one is plastering their misdeeds all over the front pages for all Americans to read. Without an informed populace, voters cannot make sound decisions at the voting booth, and therefore, candidates will find it easier to lie to constituents about their intentions for office.

The blogosphere, while more democratic than traditional print newspapers, is missing something important -- credibility. People trust print news as a source for objective information because there are journalistic standards in place to ensure that that information is reliable. The methods that those like Murdoch engage in threaten to disrupt these journalistic standards, and thus, shift the focus of news gathering from keeping a watchful eye on power to more trivial pursuits, while also having the side effect of reducing the credibility of print journalism.

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