Just the Facts
October 11, 2012 Writing Tips
Warning: This blog post isn’t really about advice. This time the topic is about journalism ethics. I’m starting a very important conversation (hopefully you all will be compelled to contribute—think about it) about the HBO show The Newsroom.
Have you seen it? (You should.)
Here’s a basic run down of the essential plot: A nightly cable news show (think any prime time program on CNN, MSNBC or FOX) receives a major overhaul with a new EP (executive producer). The new EP (executive producer), with the help of her transplant team and the eventual corporation of the anchor/star/managing editor of the show, transforms the hour of news this team commands. The EP produces a news show that is a throwback to those times when an American family gathered around the ole’ black and white tub to watch the nightly news and to learn as a result of that. The Newsroom illustrates a news program that attempts to redeem journalism. The fictional show beings to report just the facts jack. The real news. None of that celebrity, reality T.V., and consumer based junk food for the mind.
HBO’s faux news program “News Night” is doing (delayed) news and doing it better than any of the real news channels in this country do the news in a life that’s not scripted and filmed by a premium cable channel.
What I’m trying to express is this: A T.V. show has demonstrated just how flawed most of today’s news outlets have become over time. This show illustrates the lack of ethics and integrity in news today. Moreover, The Newsroom shows how this has contributed to the utter lack of involvement, education and empathy of the America public toward current national and international events. We’d all rather Bill O’Riley (not a real journalist) and CNN spend their days covering the “breaking news” of Anna Nicole Smith’s “mysterious” death.
What myself and numerous other journalism students (at least they should) want to know is: Why are “news” channels covering topics that belong on E!, TMZ and the tabloids? Don’t they remember the basics they learned in school about news, journalism and they’re responsibility as gatekeepers to educate the public? At what point did journalists stop reporting valuable news? When did this become acceptable? And what is the next generation of journalists going to do to change this?
I wish had the answers to these questions. I wish I could say that myself and my fellow journalism graduates and going to change this status quo, but I can’t. I can’t make that promise because into today’s world of profits, ratings and viewership (or readership) is what counts.
Journalism ethics have failed and give into the burden of the numbers game that rules corporate America.
What are your thoughts on this topic?
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