Sunday, October 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The worst idea of the day (and that's saying a lot!)

The worst idea of the day (and that's saying a lot!)

"Mr. President, Help Save the News."

I wouldn't even know where to start on this one (h/t Romenesko). But I'm going to have a little more to say in the immediate near-future about this growing notion of a significant role for government in saving journalism.

Meanwhile, Neal Gabler, an excellent author, is just now waking up to some of us inside and outside of the news business have been saying since 2002-03 and the dark run-up to the Iraq war.

Why don't we get the truth? Part of it, as I've said, is fear -- fear that if journalists dispel the rumors they will be bashed by the right, which is implacably against the president's reforms no matter how much sense they make. Part of it is a lack of expertise. Most reporters are not equipped to quickly and authoritatively tell truth from spin on an issue such as healthcare. And part of it, frankly, is sheer laziness.

Telling the truth requires shoe leather. It requires digging up facts that aren't being handed to you, talking to experts, thinking hard about what you find. This isn't easy. It takes time and energy as well as guts, especially when there are conflicting studies, as there are on healthcare. But finally, we may not have a journalism of truth because we haven't demanded one. Many of us are invested in one side of the story; we are for Obama or against him, for healthcare reform or against it. These are a priori positions. Truth won't change them.

Everyone's a media critic these days, and deservedly so. What drives me crazy is that there's two separate, non-overlapping conversations. Some are only focused on the politics of journalism -- the media is too liberal or too conservative or pro-business or anti-American, etc., etc., etc. -- while some fixate only on the business model of journalism. Those conversations need to merge. Oh, and the President of the United States needs to stay out of it.

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Will Bunch
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