12 January 2011

The Press Media Today is Basically Inept

This includes radio, television, and internet media.

When I was in college, I took a few journalism courses just for the fun of it. I knew if I continued in my course of study, I would be dealing with the press and printed media, newspapers, magazines, radio, and other media and they would be holding the mike.

The first principal I remember was that we must cover the who, what, where, when, why, and how. If these were not present in a story, then we heard about it. Back then professors could get away with techniques that today don't seem to be allowed.

Today news is headlines and very little else. Seldom are the hard facts even presented. It is more about opinion and agenda that the reporter wants to present. For TV news it is all about ratings and thus we get sensationalism and very little factual news. This is not what I listen for and as a result I seldom do. I even have problems with most printed media. Regardless of the facts, it is sensationalism that sells.

Jon Barron reminded me of this in his article on Vitamin D. His comment on the media was this: “Unsurprisingly, the mainstream press simply parroted back a summary of the report with the usual over-the-top headlines. But enough of picking on the press! It is now perfectly clear that the mainstream media no longer has the budget to support "investigative" journalism, with the possible exception of one or two major stories a year. All that can be expected when it comes to health and nutrition is that they parrot back the "news" they are given. That means that when a credentialed organization such as the IOM issues a report, the press will merely rework the press release issued by the researchers, add a "sexy" headline, and publish it as fact -- unquestioned, unexplored, and unchallenged. Unfortunately, that means that a lot of nonsense gets reported as "health fact" since credentials don't guarantee competence. In fact, they often mean corporate ties, hidden agendas, and huge bias. That means that if you want to truly understand the real story, you have to dig deeper and look at the underlying facts yourself or turn to alternative sources of information that you trust.”

This says a lot and is so true. Since I do not have the budget for more investigative reporting, I am also forced to use what I can find. Occasionally, I am able to get to the underlying facts of a study and then I find out how bad the study really is and seldom finish.

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