The MSM: I’ve gone to the Dark side.
Guess what? It’s not as dark as you think. #NotFakeNews
So, I recently took up a role with one of forces of evil and all things fake…
*cue theme music
I’m not at liberty to say which publication, and if anyone works it out, let me be very clear that this piece is NOT being written in my capacity within the role I hold there.
But, I am writing because from the inside, these people who I work alongside are the hardest working folk you could meet, beavering away at all unsociable hours or days of the week with one thing in mind — to ensure the public knows what is happening in their own city or the world as soon as it happens.
It’s quite amazing being in a newsroom,right their amongst all the action in the thick of it. While it’s not that old-school image of a smoky room full of rows of journalists at typewriters, it still has a semblance of that in terms of the restless, exciting energy that fills the space.
Even more amazing, is the effort, energy and commitment the people I work with put into their daily professional lives at at time when the walls are slowly but seemingly inexorably closing in on the financial viability of the industry they love.
A time when consumers, thanks to the internet and mobile technology, have a million other other ways to source news and information, and are becoming reluctant to pay for it.
Now, let me be clear — this is not going to be some sucky #ILovetheMSM piece. The distrust with which many have come to hold the MSM, or as I prefer to call it, the legacy media, is warranted to some degree, no doubt of that. It is irrefutable that there are media outlets which have used their privileged position as gatekeepers of news to ill-effect. From pushing partisan barrows and allowing propaganda to sneak into news, to allowing owners or shareholders too much power in such a way as to throw objectivity and ‘real news’ to the wind, we have witnessed how the media can go bad.
Like stinky F-word bad (and by ‘F’, I mean ‘Fox’ of course, duh)
I guess the positive of this is that it means the brilliant Colbert “The Cartoon President” gets to depict the media in a none-too-flattering light and gives us all super huge LOLZ.
But I digress.
The loss of faith in the legacy media is concerning and it is completely understandable why some have made the shift towards alternative sources for news. This shift is, in and of itself, not a bad thing. At a time when there are ever-evolving technologies that are making it increasingly easier for news to be reported, surely this also means more ‘real’ news will be reported? Actual people on the ground at the time of something happening able to record it and get it uploaded to a platform where it can be viewed live and unedited.
How much more fresh or ‘real’ can the news be, right?
However…here is where that other ‘f’ word comes in.
Not ‘fake’, but in the same vein
Who is checking this myriad of news sources for the veracity of what they are putting out?
How qualified are the content creators from these new media organisations in ensuring what they put online is ‘fact, all the facts and nothing but the facts’?
I know this will cause a howl of derision from those who would rightly argue that the legacy media have been sometimes selective with facts — that rather than gatekeepers who are merely there to ensure the orderly procession of information to readers, they have been ‘gate-filters’, letting through what they want, how they want and when they want.
Certainly, this cannot be countered for some at-times very lazy or agenda-driven reporting.
But I will not wear that this is how all the legacy media operate.
To illustrate my point, take a look at the list Fair.org has put together.
Or the Brookings Institute.
Read through the Pullitzer prize list for Investigative journalism.
None of this would have been possible without tireless journalists plugging away at a story, backed by the publication or media outlet that pays their wage. Stories that so many of the new media could never put together working without resources, relying on untrained writers whom they often DO NOT pay for their services…something I know for a fact having worked (for free) for one of them for a period and almost buying into the BS that was spun to me along the lines of ‘We are giving these writers exposure so they can build their personal brands and monetize themselves.’
That’s the biggest load of exploitative bullshit ever.
So, the point?
Don’t write off the MSM.
Don’t over demonise it.
Don’t assume you know how things play out within it.
Instead ask yourself the question — if we completely stop paying for our media or news, which means there is no way journalists can be paid to do their thing, will we ever be sure that what we are being served as news is not the real thing?
Can we really trust new media to do this?