Much has been written about the decline of journalism over the last several years. Major publications like the New York Times in the US and The Globe and Mail in Canada are now competing with millions of bloggers and citizen journalists for share of voice in an ever-fragmented media landscape.
Some traditional journalists are quick to call out blogs for lack of ethics, fact checking and balance. Ironically, I know very few bloggers who would consider themselves journalists, so perhaps this criteria to measure them is the wrong approach. In fact, most bloggers I've followed criticize journalists for the very same issues around ethics, fact checking and balance.
Rather than pointing fingers at the bloggers, perhaps journalists ought to start looking at their own inner-workings.
Journalism is in an absolute mess right now. Frankly, the problem is not the blogosphere or the fragmented media landscape - it's a lack of respect for the pillars of the profession and a lack of trust in its readership. Traditional outlets have put the dollar before the message for way too long and so many of the stories are extremely biased because many journalists refuse to ask the hard questions - is it because the gatekeepers are afraid of the consequences that often come with truth? It's absurd that cable networks call themselves fair and balanced and it's troubling to see the subtle placement of opinion/editorial features on the front page of almost every newspaper. This is not fulfilling the self-declared "Guardians of Democracy" mandate we're so often reminded of. We need real demonstrations of trustworthiness from our media sources, not empty declarations of "News you can trust".
To quote a line from the film "Spanglish"- "Lately, your low self-esteem is just good common sense."
The real problem is not in the business model; it's in the complete disintegration of the relationship with the readership. Being a journalist, above all else, should be a quest for the truth. In a time when so much news is wrought with misinformation and bias, people will be attracted to truth - it's the only path to relevance. Once journalism is relevant again, it can be profitable.
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