Monday, March 31, 2008

Nanny, nanny

Here's a post that may make you mad, but ought to make you think. It's short, so I'm pasting it all here below, but there are comments and other good things at the blog:

Nanny-Journalism is the mother of all news business problems

Sometimes outsiders notice problems better than those too close to a situation, as did British journalist Neil McIntosh when he attended the Media Re:Public conference at USC’s Annenberg School. He noticed that “serious journalism was described at the conference, repeatedly, as something like broccoli, or medicine the citizenry needs to spoon down, no matter how unpalatable, if democracy is to survive.” He “[struggled] to think of another industry that views its premium product as something akin to a nasty cough syrup - necessary, good for your health, but irredeemably foul-tasting.” He wondered, shouldn’t at least some of the value and energy journalists now place in investigative and civic journalism be placed toward making their work more “palatable?”

What McIntosh revealed is that news in America has devolved into “Nanny-Journalism,” with journalists force-feeding citizen-infants their own brew of truth and objectivity. That worked fine while the public was still harnessed to their high-chairs, unaware of any news flavors beyond the NYTimes/WaPo/AP-generated “national conversation.” But now, with a more balanced, growth-oriented diet that includes talk radio, cable news, and the Internet, the infant has been spitting-out his medicine, bursting out of his harness, and walking away, seeking better news nutrition elsewhere. Worse yet, many have now been taught by New Media how to read the label, found it has never contained 100% pure truth or objectivity, and suspect journalism malpractice. Rather than whip-up an improved batch of the old elixir, journalists would be better-off coming-up with an entirely new, more appetizing prescription before their former dependents run away from home.

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