Rant in Progress

Steven Ward, author of The Invention of Journalism Ethics: The Path to Objectivity and Beyond, 2005, states: “In today’s rapid-fire news world, it’s critical that the media provide interpretation, analysis and perspective.”

How Odd! I thought it was critical for the media to provide the facts, and then allow reader/viewers/surfers/listeners or other news foragers to interpret, analyze and put into proper perspective all by themselves. If you interpret and analyze the facts: is this objective? Who says? What if I disagree with your analysis? Oh wait, I forgot! We are reinventing the ethics to accomodate the massive array of stupid people, which now seem to populate the planet! The old ethics are no longer effective in a world devoid of critical thought. So, let’s tweak the ethics, make it okay to lead folks in the direction of whatever opinion we want them to have and just save them the trouble of forming an original thought. The effort might give them a headache. So, in short, we’re doing them a favor.

Let’s face it. Journalism hasn’t been true to the ethics of the profession since the late 1800’s when Hearst and Pulitzer’s massive circulation war inspired the movie and gave birth to the term “yellow journalism.”

Yellow Journalism later inspired “pack journalism,” wherein purveyors of news are held hostage by external environment. In a quest to sale, promote, support, or occasionally even in an attempt to remain “unbiased” media tends to avoid the facts or chase the same stories, same people, same sound bytes, same headlines… without individual investigation of the truth, the details, the other side of the story the or less sensational angles, lines or avenues.

See there. It’s true. We do travel in packs.

So my opinion – Ward’s new path to objectivity is questionable enough, but it is what lies “beyond” which scares the holy shit out of me. And I’d ask what you think about this… but CBS, Fox, NBC, and the AP haven’t analyzed and interpreted the new ethics and informed you of your thoughts yet. So, guess there’s no point in asking.


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