Great read from Todd Gitlin, writing at The Nation:
Don’t be fooled, though, by any inflated talk about the early days of American journalism. In the beginning, there was no Golden Age. To be sure, a remark Thomas Jefferson made in 1787 is often quoted admiringly (especially in newspapers): “If it were left to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.”
Protected by the First Amendment, however, the press of the early republic was unbridled, scurrilous, vicious, and flagrantly partisan. In 1807, then-President Jefferson, with much more experience under his belt, wrote, “The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.”
The whole piece is a pretty fantastic look at “The Golden Age” of journalism —or lack thereof.
Emily Finke calls out the mainstream news media:
Until you figure this out, news. I’m going to continue to continue to get my news from brilliant reporters like Seth Mnookin and Taylor Dobbs. I’m going to continue turning to the brilliant group of journalists, both fledgeling and veteran, both professional and amateur, whom I follow on twitter. I will continue to get my morning news from NPR and my evening news from BBC world. I will not be watching your overly-produced reality porn. I will not be giving your sponsors eyes. I will not be falling prey to the messages you send about who are the correct people to be afraid of. I will not be absorbing your biases and your messages of fear and hatred. I will not buy into your manufactroversies, and I will not hound innocent young men because they fit the profile you want me to suspect.
I am an avid news consumer. I am an information junkie. I should be your target audience. I should be glued to your shows each evening. I should be impatiently refreshing your websites. But I’m not. And that’s your fault. Because I don’t like the kind of consumer you make me. I don’t want to be a voyeur any more. I want to be an conscientious consumer, even of my news media. You don’t give me that option. So now you don’t get the option of informing me any more.
An excellent rebuttal to the media coverage in Boston last week (CNN was especially egregious in my opinion). Michael and I talk about this very issue on the forthcoming episode of The Impromptu.
—link via Gabe Glick (you should be following him)
Farhad Manjoo at Slate:
Breaking news is broken. That’s the clearest lesson you can draw about the media from the last week, when both old- and new-media outlets fell down on the job. By now you’ve likely heard the lowlights. CNN and the AP incorrectly reported on Wednesday that a Boston Marathon suspect had been arrested. People on Reddit and editors at the New York Post wrongly fingered innocent kids as bombing suspects. Redditors also pushed the theory that a Brown University student who has been missing for more than a month was one of the bombers—a story that gained steam on Twitter Thursday when people listening to police scanners heard the cops repeat the student’s name. Though everyone should have been careful to dismiss chatter heard over the scanner, few did. Caught up in the excitement of breaking news, I was one of many journalists who retweeted news that the Brown student was one of the suspects—a fact which, in the morning, I feel absolutely terrible about. People on Reddit feel terrible about it too, though now the damage to his reputation has been done. (Although I’m choosing not to mention his name here, that’s not going to accomplish very much—it’s already been stained.)
As a Media and Communication major, I have strong feelings on this topic. I should work to get some coherent thoughts up on the site, but haven’t yet had a chance. Manjoo’s piece —which I still have some issues with— partially gets to the heart of the problem.
What he misses is the fact that large corporations run most of our media, and thus, put their interests —read ad revenue — above all else. Being first is most important. Being accurate is a distant second. And don’t get me started on how the media frames what’s “okay” to say on national television.
Yeah, I should get working on a longer piece.