Alan Rusbridger, editor of London’s Guardian, said at a 2007 meeting of the Organization of News Ombudsmen at Harvard: “Since a free press first evolved, we have derived our authority from a feeling – a sense, a pretence – that journalism is, if not infallible, something close to it. We speak of ourselves as being interested in the truth, the real truth. We’re truth seekers, we’re truth tellers, and we tell truth to power.”
For years, we never questioned the papers. Their word was taken as gospel. Errors were made; but little matter, as the retraction was never as prominent as the original story. This elevation to the ‘high priesthood’ of truth purveying has led journalists to believe that ‘bloggers’ are an inferior species, second rate ‘would be’ journalists.
Listen to some of the quotes in Judith Townend’s guest post HERE discussing the recent journalism conference at Westminster University.
“Blog away, by all means,” said former Daily Mail commentator Peter Oborne, but print is what you get paid for. “The idea that they [bloggers] are particularly important, I don’t understand, actually. I don’t see it. As a professional working journalist, it’s what we write on the printed page.”
For the Sun’s Jane Moore too, the print presence was “all important”. Apparently, people are far more “considered” in print because it’s something “solid.” “A lot of blogging is just verbal diarrhoea and they can change it 20 seconds after they’ve sent the first thing. I just think in print you’re writing a set piece that is there forever, and you consider it and you’re far more accurate and far more measured about what you’re saying.”
So according to these journalists, the act of being paid, or the fact that they write on a permanent surface is what entitles them to be the “one true purveyor of the truth”? That is what you are paying for when you slip your golden sovereign to the man on the door and slide behind the Times paywall? Paid journalists writing on paper?
A pity so many journalists rely on bloggers and commentators to feed them story lines in the first place, with often hilarious results. Witness today’s debacle as AOLs highly paid professional journalists lift a spoof piece direct from its creator’s blog.
Raoul Moat Manhunt: Britain Breathlessly Awaits Bloody Shoot-Out Between Raoul Moat, PoliceT
The AOL piece included large chunks of The News Grind‘s satirical blog post:
As officers and dogs move in, citizens from around the isle are anticipating a swift and gruesome conclusion to the national drama. Some are even clamouring for it, calling it the best live entertainment they’ve seen in some time.
“I can scarcely wait for the climax,” confirmed Elsie White, 77, as she raced back to her house after picking up some toffees and copies of today’s paper from a local newsagent featuring the blood-soaked face of a police officer allegedly shot by Moat.
“We haven’t had a live event like this to enjoy for quite some time and there’s only old Doctors episodes on at this time of day.”
Families have been collecting children from schools and nurseries throughout the day so they could watch together, as expectations reached fever pitch that a violent firearms confrontation was imminent. Over 800 schools have closed across the country as a result.
Belatedly, AOL have pulled their story. Screen shot of original HERE. Still not admitting their source, which they describe as a ‘false report’ rather than satire, they appear unembarrassed by having lifted a blogger’s work without any attribution. It is not the first time.
Which is the real journalism? EyeSpy.MP and Guido’s collaboration which produced information regarding the amount of late night quaffing going on at our expense during votes in the House of Commons, or ‘fitted round the advertisements’ copy lifted from a blog by a desperate news editor? Which is truly in the public interest? Which would you begrudge paying for the least?
Last night I listened to Channel 4 news. A lady with advanced Multiple Sclerosis was on the screen. Helplessly dependant on her two full time carers, she was asked by the interviewer for her views on the proposed cuts in the ‘social care’ budget. She managed to enunciate three words. Enunciate is the wrong term, for her reply was unintelligible, poor soul. Her career was asked the same question. Naturally, she was distressed that any cuts might affect – a nod to her bedridden relative – ‘people like this’.
Later the announcer went on to interview Eric Pickles on the same subject. When he remonstrated that the proposed cuts would not affect the truly vulnerable, the interviewer made reference to ‘people with MS’ – an obvious nod to the interview we had just witnessed. There is just one major problem with this – someone with advanced nursing needs needing 24 hour nursing care is nothing to do with the ‘social care budget’, their care costs are paid by their local NHS trust, although we were invited to believe that this extreme example was representative of the people who would be affected.
The Social Care budget administered by local councils pay for many things, certainly for day care for those with advanced Alzheimer’s, whose relatives may well have a case for believing that their needs are actually for nursing care, but it also pays for a lot of other things – Bingo afternoons for pensioners, trips to the local garden centre for the mentally disabled, Christmas dinner for the homeless, outreach workers for depressed Ukrainians – all good worthy causes, when we can afford it – cutting that budget may be necessary, but it certainly won’t result in quadriplegics being left to blow their own nose. It was manipulative emotive reporting of the worst kind – from professional journalists. The sort we are forced to pay for, because it represents ‘the truth’.
Whilst reading Townend’s post here, I came upon this wonderful shot of the sub-editors revenge on hearing that four senior colleagues were to lose their jobs. Carefully positioned drop caps can be incredibly useful!