Saw some blog posts today discussing the provably wrong statements that Guiliani is making on the TV news stations and it’s led me to belief that TV news is no better than following twitter. It’s not real journalism. There is no control for making sure that the statements made are accurate. You’ll probably getter a more accurate, broader view of what is going on in the world today by watching raw twitter updates.
Maybe live TV is just not conducive to news. The excuse that the host just doesn’t have time to fact check everything that is said has just gotten old. Every day, lie after misstatement after miss characterizations are made continually. How many times does the Daily Show have to embarrass them before they listen?
If as an agency you can’t control the quality of what is being said, then maybe it shouldn’t be shown live. What would stop the stations from filming an interview with different talking heads and then having the interns fact check what was said. Why is there the need to let someone who once did something a long time ago spout off live on TV?
Of course the problem may be that it was never really news to begin with.
I just finished reading the article “The Story Behind the Story” in this month’s Atlantic Magazine where Mark Bowden goes through the backstory and context of the videos of now Justice Sotomayor. The article takes on the fall of real journalism and its replacement with political hit jobs. As someone raising an infant at home and often having the news channels on during the day, I can definitely attest to the fall in quality at the 24 hours news networks. All of them can best be described as News Entertainment rather than any type of real journalism.
In all of the discussions I’ve read about the death of news, journalism, and newspapers the argument seems to be that if these businesses die, then no one will pay for journalism. That without a newspaper, there is no way we could get the real story. I don’t think that this is necessarily what needs to happen though. As the big media companies race to the bottom and look more each day like an episode of Jerry Springer, there are real journalists out there that want to search for and print the truth. These people have the highest standards and will continue to do their craft long after the newspaper has shut down or moved entirely to tabloid coverage. The good news is that these determined men and women are finding ways to get paid to do the work that they love.
What I see as the issue today is that in the past we could pick up the New York Times and know that we could trust the reporting within, the people that wrote there were held to the highest standards, we didn’t even have to really think about it. However as the unit of journalism moves from the newspaper to the actual journalist we need a way to quickly transfer that same level of trust of what we are reading. What I’m proposing is that to manage the need for a transfer of trust that a body of respected journalists, either through a journalism school or a group of professional journalists, creates a set of standards for professional journalists. This group would then accredit individual writers that met the standard of professional journalism. Accredited journalists could be local bloggers reporting on the local government meetings or large columnists that have found it more to their liking to strike out on their own.
As the internet has given everyone a printing press, what we need is a way to quickly determine who is worth reading. Writers could begin to publish and as they reached a level of published content they could ask for accreditation and if received post this on their site. Each individual writer could determine how they wanted to get paid for their work, whatever made sense for them, it could even be working at a newspaper. This would not inhibit others from publishing whatever they wanted, but if you wanted to get accreditation and keep it, you must hold yourself to the standards.
Of course the running of the journalism board would cost money and have its own issues, but I’m sure that there are some people out there that would be willing to pay for such a service if it meant that high quality journalism could continue.
There have been a couple of actions taken by the Obama Administration that have left people scratching their heads. The first occurred soon after taking office when his Justice Department, instead of doing as everyone thought that they would and not continuing Bush’s State Secrets claims, instead pushed the idea of State Secrets even further than Bush’s lawyers ever went. Another occurred today with Obama reversing course on the lawsuit to release photos of Army’s abuses of prisoners. The Justice Dept had initially stated that it would not seek further appeals in blocking the photos release. However, today they pulled a 180 saying that they would indeed appeal the release.
Of course all of the talking heads on the news outlets talked about how this a complete reversal of policy by the Obama administration and that the transparency is gone. I’ve got a bit of a different opinion as to what’s going on though. Obama is a trained lawyer, married to a lawyer, and definitely believes in the rule of law. One of the things about the law is that it’s based in large part on previous case precedents. So given the facts of a case, you can predict with some degree of certainty how a judge will rule. I believe that Obama may be using the courts to appear to be a bit more of a centrist than he really wants to be.
With the State Secrets case, I’m fairly certain that he didn’t want to carry it forward. The problem was that by immediately reversing all of Bush’s policies he could lose the right half of the political spectrum. But if he pretends to take a tough stance on certain aspects, but has his lawyers push for an over the top result, that they know they’ll never get and will be thrown out by any judge, then it’s not him being weak, it’s the judges that the right already dislikes. So Obama scores political points, appears to be a centrist, even though he gets exactly what he wants.
With todays decision, the talking news heads kept going on as if this decision was up to Obama. What everyone seems to forget is that it’s a lawsuit in the courts and that Obama has no real power to influence the outcome. All he can do is to let the Justice Dept know that he would like them to continue with the appeals process. The case has already been ruled on by a judge and there’s no evidence that the government will win on appeal. But Obama scores all sorts of points with the military and can counter Cheney’s attacks that he’s releasing damning evidence of the Bush Administration’s wrong doing. Because it’s now not him releasing the photos, it’ll be the courts deciding that he must. I’m sure the Justice Dept lawyers have looked at the case and can be fairly certain what the outcome will be. But Obama gets to have it both ways with this strategy.
If this is indeed what he’s doing I’m not sure how I feel about it. In one sense it reinforces the rule of law, but it would also be using the court system as a political tool.
It was nice to see Bill Clinton speak, there’s just something about that guy. It was pretty funny when the crowd looked like it could keep cheering for hours when he got up on stage.
I also enjoyed seeing Joe Biden speak. There were some bits that were repeated out of his speech with Barack on Saturday but overall I thought he did alright.
The main thing that I really liked was when Biden laid out how the media narrative is that McCain has all of the experience with foriegn policy and that Barack doesn’t, but how with almost every single foreign policy issue that’s come up since the campaigning began Obama has been proven right and McCain was forced to take the correct position after being wrong. Biden and Clinton need to be out on every news cast from here to Nov repeating this until the media gives in and stops giving McCain credit for things he’s gotten wrong.
Obama says he’s been trying to run a clean campaign, but I think there’s a difference between going negative, which McCain has jumped into with both feet, and pointing out where you honestly believe the other side has made mistakes and used poor judgement. There are all sorts of issues that the Democrats need to bring up, Clinton and Biden just barely got started tonight. If Obama is going to win I really think someone needs to bring them up repeatedly. The American people just don’t seem to react well to leaders that they don’t believe are sticking up for themselves.
I really can’t explain why, I just am. It’s the whole issue with believing that something should go a certain way and then not really being confident that reality is going to follow through.
I’ll probably spend the night watching the pundits talk for hours. Hopefully there will be some sort of resolution after tonight.
— Update —
Well it looks like nothing changed. We’ve now got 7 more weeks of Hillary and Obama slugging it out. I’m a bit concerned that the two teams are going to believe that the attacks from the Clinton side during the last few days are what brought her back into contention and that the race is going to get a whole lot rougher. This is NOT what I want to see happen.