Mark Luckie of 10,000 Words published a post entitled the 10 Ugly Truths Of Modern Journalism.
The 10 truths are generally true. They’re far from “ugly,” though.
Many modern journalists fall prey to both nostalgia and an overblown sense of the higher purpose of what they do. This list will undoubtedly appeal to them.
Here are the 10 truths and our commentary.
1. The stories that are published are the stories that sell
Yes. And it has always been this way. Anyone who thinks differently is dreaming.
(And, by the way, another way of saying “stories that sell” is “stories that people want to read.” If journalists don’t think they should be writing “stories that people want to read,” they’re living in la la land (or j-school).
2. Many stories are not copy edited
Yes, editorial staffs are shrinking. But there are worse things than occasional copy errors.
3. Many stories come from wire services
So? The wire services do great work. Why should someone just replow the same ground?
4. Journalists are driven by awards
So? [We aren’t, by the way. If it bugs you that our MSM colleagues are just chasing Pulitzers, we’re happy to have you read us instead].
5. Journalists are biased
Of course they’re biased. They’re human beings. It’s the fiction that they aren’t or shouldn’t be biased that is the problem.
6. Some journalists use Wikipedia
Oh, the horror! Wikipedia is REALLY USEFUL, especially for getting background context. If a journalist is dumb enough to assume that every fact on there is correct, he or she is an idiot.
7. There is no big conspiracy
True! What’s “ugly” about that?
8. Many journalists have side projects
So? So do painters, actors, writers, and millions of other people.
9. Entertainment stories rule
People love to read about celebrities. Get over it.
10. No one has the answers
True! Again, not “ugly.”
The point here is not that journalists don’t do important work–of course they do. The point is that journalists who work for for-profit corporations are employed to manufacture a product that can be sold at a profit—just like any other employee who manufactures a product or service that is sold in our economy.
The pressure on the newspaper business model is obviously wreaking havoc at newspapers. And journalists who work at newspapers are having to do their jobs with a lot more pressure and a lot less leisure, influence, and stature than they’ve enjoyed in the past.
For those folks, this is unquestionably a bummer. It’s not an ugly truth about “journalism,” though.
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