|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Investigating Investigative Journalism|
As a journalism college graduate - long, long ago - I tend to deplore the profession's decline here in America. But I can't say too much about this, because I don't watch television news.
Heck, I don't watch television at all, to speak of. I don't think I've even turned on my TV for months now (although I do watch shows - like this one - online). But I don't have cable, and I never watch television news, anyway.
And these are businesses. They have to make money to stay in business. I can't think that CNN has found the right solution for that, the solution that mixes healthy profits with integrity and journalistic zeal, but I wouldn't know, would I? And would I rather they imitate Fox, just pretending to be a news network while pushing propaganda 24/7?
This is a great clip, and it's tempting to deplore what's going on. But I can't do that, not without being a complete hypocrite. Yeah, I want other people to watch serious news programs, huh? Well, I do, I guess,... but that's not how I want to get the news myself.
Note that I generally get my news from internet sources. And, yes, there's a big problem with that, since we tend to visit websites which just confirm what we already believe. Well, that's why people watch Fox 'News,' too.
It's not like years ago, when there were just three major networks, and the whole country got the same story, more or less. Admittedly, there was both good and bad in that. But those networks could afford to subsidize their news programs - and since there wasn't anything else on, they got a lot of viewers, too.
For good or bad, we can't use that model now. It just won't work. We need a new model for the 21st Century, a news model which can work in the fragmented, diverse, and incredibly open world of the internet.
Now, I don't know what model will work for CNN and other news networks, I really don't. I hope they don't follow the model of Fox 'News' and cease to be a news network entirely. But that seems to work in a financial sense, assuming that you're willing to sell your soul for money. Of course, that's just abandoning the news business - and prostituting yourself - not finding a new model for what's critically important in any democracy.
For us consumers of news, however, we have a lot more options these days. I do visit some general news sites each day (especially for local news), but I tend to get much of my news from blogs - oh, not the news itself, necessarily, but links to interesting articles elsewhere. TPM, for example, is a great source for political news.
I also get emails from news aggregators. For example, I get this Sigma Xi 'SmartBrief' of science news. And I get links related to skepticism from CFI (although I normally just visit the website for that one). Most of these are specialist sites, of course, but I also get an RSS news feed of headlines from the BBC.
It's great, but there are two big problems, problems which tend to work at cross-purposes. The first is that there's pretty well an unlimited amount of content on the internet - certainly, far, far more than any one person could consume. You have to find a way to manage this, to thin it down to manageable proportions. (And no, I haven't found that solution, not completely, not yet - although reading the news isn't nearly as time-consuming as writing about it!)
But that tends to make the other problem worse, the problem of reading only what confirms your existing beliefs. I don't know what to do about this one, other than to try to find valid sources for my news - and to confirm claims, using Snopes.com and PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org (here's a good list of such places).
Well, since I write this blog, I also encourage people to disagree with me here. If I'm wrong, I want to know about it. (Of course, just claiming that I'm wrong won't change my mind. I'll need a good argument with, preferably, good evidence. But that's the whole point. I try to have good reasons for what I believe.)
We need investigative journalism, but the old models aren't going to work in the 21st Century. We'll have to find new models. We really have no choice.