Villing & Company

Journalism 2012 Motto: Sensations Sells (or Who Cares About the Facts)

It's probably the generation I come from and what I learned from my college journalism classes that underlie the reason for my next two questions. What in the world has happened to honest, fact-based reporting of new stories? And, maybe more importantly, what has happened to taking the time to do something right the first time?

We are seeing more and more retractions after news articles are published or broadcast, whether international, national, or right in our own backyards. And I'm not talking about the small box on the inside front page of a newspaper that notes the misspelled name or wrong photo in a previous story. In their haste to "be the first" or to win the marketing wars, many in the news industry are selling out.

What is wrong with being second, but getting the facts right? As an avid news reader and listener, I respect the latter and don't really care whether the publication I'm reading or station I'm viewing or listening to is first, second or third in breaking news. What I do care about, and I believe the majority of the public does as well, is getting the correct details of a story brought to me objectively, so I can assess the facts for myself.

When established and respected media start playing a numbers game and generating news just to see their name in lights, then the journalism industry no longer deserves the respect it should as one of our basic and fundamental freedoms.

Do I blame the media alone? Certainly not. The consumer of the news is as much to blame as the reporter of the news. Why does the local TV station lead with the sensational story of the day? Simply because in their research, the survey says that type of news is what gets our attention. Unfortunately for the public, that means news has now become just a side bar to the entertainment business. Sadly, true journalism and the strength of one of our first amendment rights, is being overshadowed by the need to "sell," no matter what – even if it means playing loose with the facts.

I think Joseph Pulitzer got it right when he said, "Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light."

Filed Under: general

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