The Daily Scoop: A journalism-free news media

As television news broadcasts have evolved public understanding of what constitutes journalism has changed significantly. From the days of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings cable news has brought us into the era of pundit commentary delivered by those who have little or no experience in journalism, its ethics, nor its responsibility to provide accurate, objective, Fair and Balanced reporting. Should we be concerned? Many already are. Below are two, yes, opinion pieces addressing these very concerns. The first is written by Alexa Kravitz, journalism student at the University of Maryland which appeared in the American Journalism Review and second, based on Kravitz, delves deeper in subject.

No Experience Necessary?

Many political talk shows are hosted by non-journalists. Is there a problem with that?

MSNBC President Phil Griffin certainly doesn’t think so. His hires on the liberal-leaning network include non-journalists Rachel Madow, Lawrence O’Donnell, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Melissa Harris-Perry. His rival Fox features such non-journalist mainstays as Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren.

Griffin isn’t shy about vocalizing his strong opinions on the issue. “I’m sorry, I don’t care about journalists,”he said in an interview with Tampa Bay Times media writer Eric Deggans. “I want fair minded, smart people who understand the world, who can interpret it and if they’re journalists, great. This notion that somehow you have to have done something to earn so-called journalist credentials? Stop.”

But critics fear that the proliferation of hosts with no grounding in journalistic ethics and traditions comes with a steep price.

Read more…

A Journalism-Free News Media

The very definition of “journalist” is being reimagined by those aiming to enrich themselves. And, of course, all this is happening as the relatively few genuine journalists left in America are periodically lambasted for the horrific crime of actually reporting real news and questioning power.

But for all of these trends, none is more disturbing than recent moves to challenge the the basic assumption that journalism is even necessary anymore. In an economy that fetishizes synthetic derivatives rather than tangible products and in a political cauldron that periodically manufactures notions of “post-partisan,” “post-racial” and “post-industrial” utopias, the ascendant notion in the media industry is that news organizations and American democracy can survive and thrive in a “post-journalism” era — one that wholly removes journalism from the news media.

Read more…

9 Comments to “The Daily Scoop: A journalism-free news media”

  1. MSNBC’s Phil Griffin is correct; his people are not journalists. With one or two exceptions, they are talking heads. As for their being fair minded, if he believes that, then I have a bridge he might be interested in.

    I enjoy O’Donnell, Maddow and even Oberlman. But none are journalists, none have the concept of fair and balanced firmly in hand. They have an agenda and angle, and the wise listener knows that.

    As for the Right, it might be interesting to know what Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh all have in common. None have a college degree. Deep thinking, detailed analysis, justified skepticism are traits that do not hamper these men.

    Talking heads have their spot in today’s 24/7 news cycle. It is up to the listener to realize they all have an agenda, they all have an angle. And just because their networks, whether CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, or FOX, claim in some form to be “fair and balanced,” doesn’t make it so.

    • All good points! Personally, if I watch a newscast it’s ABC or something on CNN if there is something breaking.

      I like what you point out about education. None of those on Fox have much of an academic background, Hannity does have a degree in seminary I believe. Not all that applicable to reporting the news or even opining on current events with any degree of substance. As far as MSNBC host go, I would expect Maddow with her PhD to be a bit less one-sided. This where CNN deserves some credit. The majority of their people do have degrees in journalism and have years of experience in the field. They appear to be the only ones with hiring standards at least until they begin searching for personalities to host shows they want to compete against Fox.

      And yes, I have to agree with you…just because they say it’s Fair and Balanced does not make it true.

      Thanks for the comments 🙂

      • I believe that a degree points one in the direction of considering the larger issue, and questioning the obvious. I guess I’m saying they see the broader picture. An education is not directly related to becoming a true journalist, but a lack of one certainly hinders the possibility.

  2. As far as I know (not sure about Sharpton), the MSNBC hosts are all well educated although not in journalism. NPR just dropped their “fair and balanced” for stories that clearly have one facutally correct side. I think that when one group has facts and the other has just emotions, more news organizations will be following NPR’s lead. And I’m not sure that MSNBC ever claimed to be fair and balanced.

    Look at MSNBC and often CNN as a new version of Time or Newsweek: Interesting stories salted with news, but well researched. I can’t say the same for Fox when often there are not a lot of facts involved.

    • I do hope the other news organizations follow NPR’s lead. There really is no place in factual debate for those opinions based solely on extreme speculation or hieghtened emotions.

  3. And that is why STephen Colbert was just awarded a Peabody – for his series on SuperPACs. With his comedy he committed the ‘sin’ of real journalism – he informed and shone some light on disgraceful practices.

    Not only are most of the MSNBC hosts jnot ournalists, they are often woefully ill informed (I do think FOX News is on a whole different level with an actual agenda to misinform).

    And even the old network evening newscasts are so slim of any real content, I gave up on them some years ago. Surf the three channels some night during the news and you’ll often find them covering the same ‘soft’ story at the exact same time. No independant news judgement. And almost NO international news.

    CNN – meh! Wolf Blitzer makes my teeth hurt. There are a few good things there and I must admit when a really immportant story is breaking (like Japan and the tsunami), I park at CNN and stay there.

    For real news on tv, for me it’s only PBS, BBC, and CSpan.

    • So is that truth through comedy?

      You’re right, many of the hosts on those shows are illinformed. Fox is a whole different story. You’re right there is a conserted effort to misinform. It no secret why they have those commentary shows on at the same time as the nightly news on the traditional network newscasts. It’s because that is the timeslot people are accustomed to watching the news, when people will be receptive to commentary as “news”.

      Do you think the 3 nightly newscasts are not going into that much depth because they just don’t have time? They’re only on for half an hour. They are my choice for news when I do watch a broadcast, ABC actually. I tend to read rather than watch and CNN has one of the best websites for that I’d say.

      “For real news on tv, for me it’s only PBS, BBC, and CSpan.”

      Yep 🙂 When Obama is speaking I’ll tune to CSPAN instead of a cable channel.

  4. [Do you think the 3 nightly newscasts are not going into that much depth because they just don’t have time? ]

    No I don’t Spuds. They actually only have something like 19 minutes – spending any of that brief time on a soft feel good story about a feel good story about somethng like a dog that found its way home means, to me, they’re just not committed to informing their viewers of the news of the day.

    Also, the networks have slashed their news budgets. Back ‘in the day’, they considered news side of the business to be a ‘loss leaders’. They knew they wouldn’t be profitable but saw it as a responsiblity to perform that public funciton. Now they are required to be profitable. So it’s not about reporting, it’s about chasing ratings.

    • Well, that’s true… there is a definite focus on ratings and profits these days. Maybe it was the same in the past but less evident. But then again, that has always been the format of nightly news… a few “This just in” reports, an investigative piece or two then a human interest or fluff piece to end on a positive note. That’s how I remember it going back to my youngin’ days.

      But I’m with you, I could do without the fluff piece to have one more substantive news story at times.

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