Friday, June 15, 2007

It Seems To Be An Online World

After watching a news story on local TV I commented to my husband, "Boy, what a non-story!" It was a story about a man having been injured on a roller coaster bringing suit against the amusement park. The reporter stood next to the highway leading to the park. No shot of the park, no shot of the roller coaster or of what fell or from where. It didn't last more than a minute, if that. Not much time in which to report anything. To get more detail, if there is any, you have to go to online.

You don't have to have a newspaper delivered anymore either. You can read it online. I'm not sure which came first, decline in circulation, advertising revenue and thus budget for staff or the popularity of the internet. The problem with print media, however, is what is in print is the same as what is online - and that, at times, is not enough.

Then you add blogs to the mix. For the most part they are less than objective. Yet more and more I find myself going to local blogs to find out what the people behind the headlines are really thinking. It makes me wonder, if this trend continues, where one will go to find a well researched analysis of both sides of a story.

Bloggers, like everyone, have their agendas. The disagreements between varying sides can get quite unruly. At times it gets to the point of being counter productive with feelings hurt, reputations put in jeopardy, opinions stated as truths and hot buttons at melt down. There are exceptions, and excellent ones, but for the most part blogs are probably the least accurate source for news.

So we're back to square one. We need the press! We need good, in depth investigative journalism to make a come back.

A case in point: a local activist pens a column for the home town newspaper. Her column is opinion. That's what columnists do. She takes on the city often. As a citizen that is her right but are her assumptions accurate? The same paper prints a guest opinion from the mayor and entire city council taking her to task for being "loose with facts". Should their word be taken as gospel? The issues are major. I would be much more comfortable in forming my opinion if an objective reporter would dig into the criticisms and the rebuttal then lay out the facts.

I'm not saying this never happens; I am saying it doesn't happen often enough. Without the press where is one to go? We need them to provide the neutral center. Broadcast doesn't have the time allotment and bloggers don't have the credibility.

That leaves us with opinion. That leaves us uninformed. And that is dangerous.

8 comments:

Wondering said...

The tragedy here is...what neutral reporter would you choose? Reporters are not entities unto themselves. They have to answer to their editor, who answers to the publisher. Neutral press...just doesn't exist. The press, at least in Spokane, has an agenda. And the employees had better toe that agenda.

The columnist you refer to here always has an opinion disclaimer at the end of her column. And, after really taking the time to study her comments , it is my personal opinion that she is dealing in facts. And that is key, study the situation and make an individual decision based on the research. It is useless to depend on todays press for accurate non-biased reporting. Just isn't going to happen. And I can't imagine going forth, having made a decision based on an article in the press.

Ted said...

Many good points but I find info on the Internet more up-to-date and at my fingertips whether I'm looking for a baseball score or the weather forecast. And a watershed moment occurred when the American media would no print or televise those cartoons from Denmark! I did see those cartoons and you know where!!! As far as blogs go, we have the good, the bad, and the ugly but they all convey the very essence of freedom !!
Ted

Angela said...

I enjoyed this blog - good insight. I agree with a lot of what you're saying. Even though reporters may not be perfectly objective or neutral, they'll be a lot closer to that ideal than someone who isn't paid or held accountable.

Dogwalkmusings said...

Wondering,

To me an opinion disclaimer indicates what I'm reading is more likely opinion than fact. And that's okay. What I'm pointing out is we need a source to look at opinions from both sides of an issue and sort out what is merely opinion and what is in fact - fact.

Dogwalkmusings said...

Ted,

You're right - the internet can't be beat for timliness but finding blogs that deal with fact versus opinion are hard to find and who has the time to search them out? Weather or a ball score? Instantaneous!

Bill McCrory said...

The newspapers are in the best position to give accurate, timely information. No news medium will ever be able to give the complete story, though. The best the medium can do is provide an up-to-date synopsis and more complete reporting of new information. The previously new information becomes part of the next story's synopsis. That assumes, of course, the editor(s) allows the reporter to continue to cover the story.

Television news is format-limited. Only wet dogs are more pathetic than an inexperienced television news reporters with outdated or irrelevant images. Radio news, other than national network news, is nonexistent in this region. The radio news we do hear is heavily reliant on stories developed by their "partner" television stations' news teams.

I'd still prefer good newspaper coverage supplemented by the paper's aggressive use of its online medium, but putting together an accurate, timely story is pretty difficult. More important is the need to do followup coverage that adds new information while still having enough information to be understood by readers who missed the first story.

Wondering said...

I agree, with all their faults, print press is the most "reliable". But everything is relative. "Reliable" is dependant on many factors. The slant required by the editor/publisher, accuracy of facts, and ability to disseminate these facts clearly with the written word. And this doesn't always exist in this area. Thus, I think the well informed opinion comes about by checking sources...doing your research, arriving at your own "reliable" information. I simply can't imagine, depending entirely on any one source, as a basis for reaching a conclusion.

Word Tosser said...

I am old enough to remember reading the paper, meant getting the facts... straight facts... now you have to question more the things you read. And tv is just a glimpes with pictures.