“How very dare you challenge my political party??”
Journalism may be the activity or job of collecting, writing, broadcasting and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, and radio, both on and off-line, but good journalism is telling the story in a truthful, and equally as importantly, balanced way.
Whilst I hate to use the well-known phrase “back in the day”, back in the day when I was a mere nipper, there were but two channels on our televisions, BBC and ITV. Both ran news bulletins, and both were highly respected for fairly representing the news as it happened.
There were, of course, also several national newspapers all doing a similar job, and there was plenty of investigative journalism that exposed the scandals of the day.
Would you believe, there was only one national radio station, the BBC Home Service (now BBC Radio 4) that reported on news and current affairs. Also very highly respected, and deeply trusted.
I reckon all that starting changing with the onset of digitalisation of news, and indeed satellite television.
Instead of making journalism better and more instant and available to the masses, it has done the opposite. There are now so many channels and on-line sites available, that, whatever your prejudices or points of view on any subject, you will find a channel or an on-line site that will sell you opinions to suit every individual prejudice.
Even some of today’s newspapers, suffering financially from on-line competition, cannot afford proper balanced journalism, and go instead for the quick-hit sensationalism that usually keeps as far from the facts as is possible. Why let the truth get in the way of sales? So many people start believing what they are reading. Just like Hitler, Trump, and Brexiteers have successfully done, say or write something often enough and the masses will likely go for it……
Last year, Cathy Newman, who presents Channel 4 News in the UK, did what she does best, and grilled her interviewee as befits her job. When she challenged the controversial Canadian Jordon Peterson about the gender pay gap, she received death threats from his supporters. Her Wikipedia page was vandalised, so details about her bore little resemblance to reality. She says: “When you’re targeted by a campaign, there’s such a torrent of misinformation, the truth about you gets washed away in the flood.” She adds: “No-one knows what to believe any more.”
The BBC’s Political Editor of News, Laura Kuenssberg, the first woman to have held this post, is another who has been seriously threatened by people whose political agenda means they cannot cope with any journalism that seeks to undermine their opinion. And this applies to all sides of the political spectrum, so if she does her job of interviewing properly, she is vilified by whichever party she is interviewing. What is the problem of doing a hatchet job on someone, to try to get to the truth, as long as you do an equivalent job on the opponent?
The problem is, quite simply, that many people just don’t want to hear their heroes or representatives grilled –it’s too uncomfortable – they just want to hear their own opinions and prejudices expressed without challenge. And there’s enough places for them to go these days to achieve just that. People are becoming increasingly lazy when it comes to critical thinking.
Bloggers and “citizen journalists”, who are replacing professional journalists at an alarming rate, are not bothered by balance or fairness – they just spout their beliefs ad nauseam, which influences so many digital readers particularly in relation to political news.
So while I don’t think good journalism is dying, it’s just getting far more difficult to find, let alone to respect.
Are we seeing the death of journalism?
I am writing this blog from a place where journalism is already dead. I mean, in general.
There are some spots, like Vladimir Pozner with his ‘Pozner’ show on the Russia’s First Channel. There is Alexey Venediktov and his popular ‘Echo of Moscow’ FM radio. There’re a few of other last men standing, here and there. But the whole picture is like this: some are killed, some have fled, some just turned into well-paid Kremlin’s faithful speakers, such as Vladimir Solovieyv. I love this guy, by the way. He’s got some nice property in Miami Beach and in Cuomo lake but now he curses the West on his live TV show.
A brilliant guy, by the way. During Boris Yeltsin’s time, he loved freedom and the West very much. There is a joke now that after Putin is finally gone he would be the first to say: ‘hey, I was doing my best, I did what I could do under the circumstances, it was a silent protest and yes, I love freedom of speech and, sure, Putin was a big mistake.’
Overall, journalism in Russia turned into Goebbels-like propaganda. It was killed by the current political regime. R.I.P.
I am a Moscow State university department of journalism alumni and I see what my alma mater has turned now into, losing its aura and prestige. Becoming a journalist now in Russia is not something I would advise. True journalism is also dangerous here.
Just recently three journalists from Russia were killed in the Central African Republic during their investigative tour there. They were trying to unveil shady business of the so-called ‘Wagner’ private military company, operating in this country. It is technically private but their personnel trains at the Russian military intelligence (GRU) camps. They also fight in Syria and elsewhere.
So the Wagner’s business there is connected with gold and other natural resources of which this poor country is so rich. Somebody (armed white men) stopped their car on the road, took them out and just shot them down. No robbery, nothing stolen. The official version is that these guys were killed by local thugs, by black men. But there are witness saying about white men. There’re unofficial investigations going on and, judging by what has already been made public, it is highly likely that there were murdered by their fellow Russians, serving for this Wagner army, in an attempt to stop their investigation.
We shall wait for the final outcome. But it is not just a typical murder on the road in a dangerous third-world country rich on resources and full of street crime which is reality of the investigative journalism. It looks more and more like the Russian state kills its own citizens – trying to cover its illegal business in a foreign land.
So if you want to make some money out of journalism now in Russia, go to some TV talk show, make a smart face, open your mouth and just say ‘Hail to Putin’ or ‘Crimea belongs to us’ or ‘America is a Big Satan’. True, you’ll be fine: rich and safe, having some nice property in the West or even a British passport, like one of the First Channel TV anchors, Sergey Brilev (yeah, it is a very funny story that came out just recently).
But you’re definitely not going to be a journalist.
Kryptonite to Your World-View
Let’s start with the big question here: yes, I do believe that we are seeing the end of a form of journalism that has existed for well over 100 years. It’s the twilight of the period when a reporter would cover only the Royal Navy. A beat he would watch eight hours a day — for years. Over time, this journalists would become truly expert in his beat. In the case of the Navy, he would know the serious players and spend time with each. Every decision-maker would know this reporter on sight.
But is this death of Journalism? No, Herodotus of Halicarnassus was the first historian and I will argue that there isn’t much difference between a historian and a reporter. Read any newspaper from one-hundred years ago if you doubt me. Telling the truth isn’t going away, no matter how much certain politicians wish it to be.
It is worth asking what happened; how did we get to the point where our leaders could simply say that any… no, all news stories that they disagree with are fake? In the US White House we now have a woman named Kellyanne Conway pretending that facts are simply a matter of opinion. Don’t like these facts? Create alternative facts of your own.
Our leader’s morals have utterly vanished alongside serious journalism. Journalists held politicians to a standard. You couldn’t just screw some porn star and yell “fake news!” when it came to light.
Serious journalism was killed by Google, Facebook, et. all. There is real money to be made by getting others to believe outrageous lies. Indeed, Google will pay big dollars for your lies. Simply sign-up for your AdWords account and Double-Click will start bringing you the cash.
The more outrageous the lies the more people will click. More eye-balls equal more ad revenue. Small lies are for cowards, my country is rewarding those who seek its utter destruction. The bumper-sticker has been replaced by the Facebook meme and we handsomely pay those who wish us ill.
Perhaps you believe I am preferring to Mr. Putin? No, he isn’t the Grand-Master of European politics he fancies himself to be. It’s the good people of Veles, Macedonia who may well destroy what is left of Western Democracy. Yes, I know you believe I’m hyperventilating. Perhaps you haven’t been acquainted with the fine citizens of Veles.
No matter what you think of Joseph Goebbels, he was no fool. The Nazi propaganda chief correctly point out: “The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.”
No doubt Mr. Goebbels would be pleased to know that Roger’s much loved BBC has been eclipsed by Facebook memes concerning immigration. Hey, did you know the those little brown bastards are coming to rape your daughter? They are!!! And you best raise your voice in protest now, before Hillary can get more of them in. Libtards want total and free immigration, you know.
Believe this? A real journalist is kryptonite to your entire world-view.