Monday, December 07, 2009

“Maybe Journalism” or Why News Organizations Are Tanking

Newspapers, too, play the fly-on-the-wall game. Consider what the Times itself did today.

The “Maybe Journalism” piece runs at the bottom of the front page, while at the top is a long story about how President Obama, after long consultations with advisors, reached his decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan. The story is based, says the reporter, on “dozens of interviews with participants as well as a review of notes some of them took during Mr. Obama’s 10 meetings with his national security team. Most of those interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, but their accounts have been matched against those of other participants wherever possible.”

We readers are still being asked to trust the word of people who violated the confidentiality of the White House Situation Room and other internal deliberations. I tend to believe the overall thrust of the story — that Obama and his team struggled mightily with this decision — but I don’t have any faith in most of the particulars, including the anonymously sourced direct quotes of the president and others in the deliberations.

Why is this not, in the words of the story about the Hong Kong animators, “depicting events that no journalist actually witnessed — and that may not have even occurred”?


Tabloid Journalism’s Future? Or Just an Extension of the Present?

Posted by Dan Gillmor in Accuracy, Trust

I know the difference between accurate reporting and "Maybe Journalism".  I have written many an official report that I knew would potentially be called as evidence in a legal proceeding.  I know that such reports are incredibly dull - primarily because they only contain the facts as I know them.  They do not contain any presumptions.  (e.g. I observed that the Furrier's store window was broken.  I observed that the subject was holding a fur coat.  I observed that the bank display showed +86 degrees F.)  My accounting of this, albeit fictional, circumstance will not sell any "News" - it is dull.  It does however tell the truth of the situation.

Journalism has become more about selling the "News" than reporting it.

Posted via email from Pa^2 Patois

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