Monday, January 12, 2009

Modern journalism

In my first journalism class, the prof asked us, "What is the primary function of your daily newspaper?"

To report the news? No, that's something it does to achieve its primary function.

To present ideas? No, that's something else it does to achieve its primary function.

To sell advertising? ... You're getting warmer ...

The primary function of the regular, garden-variety newspaper -- the thing it does without which it ceases to be -- is to make money.

If the readers demand objective news, they get it.
Let me change the mood of that sentence: If the readers were to demand objective news, they would get it.

But they don't. The majority of readers and listeners/watchers go for sound bites and splashy headlines. Cotton candy for the mind. No depth. That takes too long to learn and process.

And the average folks HATE things that are really long ... like some posts I can think of. (And of which I am guilty, I will admit.) Especially if they require thought. Or -- GASP! -- background knowledge.

We haven't progressed at all since the days of muckraking and yellow journalism back in the late 1800s.

As far as broadcast media -- at least radio -- try out BBC.co.uk/radio -- I loooooove it.
That's the way to get national & international news.
The only challenge is that sometimes there is a long discussion of cricket scores, but there are plenty of online BBC channels and plenty of programs, news & otherwise.

And one can always go play with the cats for a few minutes until the cricket chirping is over with.