the fog of news

September 2, 2006

jeff jarvis said the above on day one of our interactive journalism class…the fog of news. the phrase is loaded with ideas and theories. what is news? how can news be fogged? does the fog burn off? how?

blogs. web logs. my feelings are mixed. i believe in the power of open access and i believe in choice, above all else. more and more blogs mean a greater volume of voices and opinions. so, there is more to choose from, and therefore the right of individual choice grows stronger. one needs to remember, however, that not all blogs/stories/websites etc. are equal.

equal in quality, consistency, accuracy, objectivity…the list goes on and on. for some, this is not an issue. some readers or consumers of news can sift through multiple websites and blogs and magazines and cable news stations and take what they like from each. others may not be able to do this, for a variety of reasons. first, they simply don’t have time. or, they don’t have the academic background that gives them an understanding of how the news functions.

the news is meant to be trusted, i think we can all say we believe in that and aspire to be practitioners of journalism in that way. for blogs to be trusted, they must cleary expose their agenda. some blogs may very well be objective, but with the ability for anyone to comment on blogs, thus adding endless opinions, objectivity is washed away.

i do not mean to say that people’s opinions and commentary aren’t important. i actually think it’s great that the news becomes a conversation with all parties involved learning from the process. but the reader who doesn’t participate in the discussion and is instead only on the outside of the conversation may be the loser.

is the story fogged by blogs? is it possible for the people to see through the opinions and uneducated banter and see clearly?

later, i will address the need for quality control.

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5 Responses to “the fog of news”

  1. “the news is meant to be trusted, i think we can all say we believe in that and aspire to be practitioners of journalism in that way.”

    Not sure I agree with that, at least the first part of it, Georgia. I at least would have to ask what you mean by “meant,” and who exactly should trust the news, specifically to what extent.

    Should Fox news be trusted? what about Al Jazera? Or any major news organization with a major corporate parent, which is to say pretty much all of them?

    I can’t fully trust any news with an agenda or vested interests behind it. I’ll believe what I read (or see/hear, etc.) to a certain extent. But if it’s a big news story, or something I’m particularly interested in, I’d have to get the same story from outlets with differing interests before I’d fully trust that bit of news.

    As far as blogs go, I think they do have a general notoriety for bias, but like anything else, they’ll need time to build respect and trust. Those who last and are generally transparent, while dealing with issues in an enlightening, interesting way, those who contribute something the mainstream media lacks, will become respected.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was the Wall St Journal or the Washington Post. But that’s not to say that those old-school meidia outlets shouldn’t be questioned.

    In fact, I’d argue that we should be more dogged in questioning their output, because so few people do, and so many look to them with far too much of that “trust” you wrote of. I know we should strive to create news that people can trust. But the other side of that coin is that we should never trust too much that which we are inclined to.

    Like I said a few sentences ago, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the corruption which was a part of its collapse was a part of the empire almost from the moment Romulus killed Remus.

  2. To which, I ask: How far and how deep will we reveal our loyalties as we write?

  3. Let’s explore the question of how we come to trust both bloggers and reporters: Are there new standards needed? Do the old standards apply to both tribes? Why do people distrust media and bloggers?

  4. fiercetalk said

    wow, great comments. thank you….i am beginning to feel the power of this afterall. class on a computer!

    anyway, i didn’t mean to simply say that all “established” media outlets COULD be trusted. obviously fox news and many others have blatant agenda’s (even though they say they don’t!) and we all know about how corporate control influences in minor as well as major ways. i meant to suggest that i (and i believe all of us) strive to be journalists that are objective, or at least open about personal biases, and that blogs have a tendency to be overly opinionated…perhaps providing a diservice.

    as jarvis says, “are new standards needed?” i would say absolutely.

    matt- i agree with what you said about questioning major outlets…of course! we should question the validity of everything, even ourselves!

    joy- i have few loyalties, and a lot of skepticism.

  5. […] P.S. Matt makes an interesting point about trust and the mainstream media in the comments over at Georgia’s blog. […]

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