Saturday, March 01, 2008

Journalism examined

I was a newspaper reporter for a number of years. Most of my colleagues were human beings first, citizens second, and reporters third, which is just about how I think it should be. But some folks I worked with, or was in competition with, were what a television newsman friend of mine called blankety-blank extentions of blankety-blank microphones. He had little routines he did to illustrate the concept. For example:

Man standing in earthquake rubble sticks microphone in woman's face: Excuse me, Mrs. Jones. I understand that's your husband's dead hand sticking out of that pile of charred wood that used to be your house. Will you tell our viewers what you're feeling right now? (said with barely disguised pleasure at being first on the scene)

It matters what you think journalism is supposed to be. (Or blogging, for that matter.) People who are just 'out for a story' can not only forget that people have feelings, they can forget that publishing information out of season can get somebody killed. (Or, worse yet, some of them know that, but figure it's not their business to care.)

Please read True Journalism v. That Which Definitely Isn't, at Expat Yank, for more on this topic.

Update: This post at SFO Mom has a lighter tone (as well it might, considering it's about focus and not endangerment), but it does look at an aspect of the 'what is journalism supposed to be?' question.

1 comment:

Barb, sfo said...

Thank you for the link back! I'm interested in following the other links as well. Yes, journalists do no one a service when they treat a story as nothing but an "exclusive" and neglect the human side.