Junk news: harmful to your health
0 comment Thursday, November 27, 2014 |
For years we've been plagued by the 'food nannies' scolding us about what we eat, and warning us away from junk food. Now it seems there are 'news nannies' telling us the blogosphere is bad for us.
I came across this link, from 2005, describing a study on news media.
Study Warns of Junk-News Diet
Internet blogs lead a trend toward a "journalism of assertion" that relies less on reporting than personal opinion, the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism has reported.
Estimated readership of weblogs has increased 58% in six months. About 32 million Americans say they have obtained information from the online journals, best known as blogs. Tom Rosenstiel, director of the research project, which is affiliated to Columbia University, said that with the growth in Internet commentary, the culture of opinion journalism has expanded exponentially. Rather than taking the time to gather and scrutinise each piece of information -- the model for the mainstream media -- the report said some bloggers had a different philosophy: "Publish anything, especially points of view, and the reporting and verification will occur afterward in the response of fellow bloggers."
The piece concludes with a warning about news consumers 'consuming too little that can nourish citizens and too much that can bloat them.'
Junk news.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism claims to be nonpartisan, non-ideological, and non-political.
However the report quoted above seems very definitely to have an agenda, and an elitist one at that. The 'journalism community' is rather defensive these days, what with those pesky bloggers practicing unlicensed journalism all over the internet. There is so much criticism and obloquy directed at bloggers, questioning our 'right' to report or comment on the news. The complaint above is that bloggers don't 'scrutinize everything' but take a 'publish anything' approach. This complaint is laughable, considering the number of scandals involving dishonest journalists: invented sources, fictional stories passed off as true, fraud, 'fauxtography' as practiced by the big-time wire services, plagiarism
and equally egregious, the flagrant bias of the mainstream media.
So for this journalism group to slam bloggers is a severe case of the pot calling the kettle black.
And it might be helpful for the 'journalism community' to consider that bloggers are simply 'citizen journalists' who as citizens, exercising their First Amendment rights.
Many of us, too, are not in competition with the MSM so much as we are trying to keep them honest, or provide an alternative to the monolithic, narrow spectrum of views and information that is permitted in the 'controlled media.'
Ideally, the blogosphere could act as a corrective to the MSM, and provide real balance, unlike the purported attempt at being 'fair and balanced' on certain TV news channels.
Most bloggers, myself included, are commenting more than reporting. The idea is to pass along news stories and provide opinion and discussion of the news. Most of us, with some exceptions, are not out there gathering news. Some bloggers have provided first-hand accounts of big news events as they happened to be at ground zero of some major news story; an example would be bloggers who provided real-time accounts of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath.
But the fact is, few of us find ourselves in the middle of earth-shattering news stories. So most bloggers are no threat to the professional news people. But I think we do present a threat to them in that they no longer have the field to themselves; the internet and the advent of the weblog present a forum for anyone with access to the internet to add another voice to the discussion. It is a truly democratic revolution in the dissemination of ideas as well as news.
And that's what the self-important 'journalism community' has got its panties in a bunch about. They want to sit on high and pontificate and tell the rest of us common folk what to think, and to delimit the discussion within the bounds they designate. They want to be the only gatekeepers of ideas and news. Richard Salant, who was a president of CBS News, said 'Our job is not to give people what they want, but what we decide they ought to have.'
Such is the mindset of Big Media. And we see that condescending 'we-know-best' attitude in the quote from the article above, referring to 'news consumers' consuming too much that doesn't nourish us but 'bloats' us.
So just as the Center for Science in the Public Interest , (the nanny-group that watches over our nutritional choices), the Project for Excellence in Journalism' is there to lecture us about 'junk news'.
I agree that there is such a thing as 'junk news', but unlike these journalism police, I don't think the blogosphere is the culprit; I see the MSM as the prime purveyors of 'junk news.' And the TV News channels and other sources like tabloid newspapers are to journalism what twinkies are to nutrition: empty calories.
Notice what has been taking up much of the time and discussion: the ridiculous and unseemly 'feud' between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump. If the whole thing is not staged for publicity, which it may well be, it is a display of some very childish and trashy behavior on the part of both. Both parties obviously have more money than manners; they are proof that money doesn't buy class. And the news media should be embarrassed to devote so much time and space to their crass behavior. Still, the whole thing illustrates the disappearance of civilized behavior and standards in our society, so in that sense it may have some didactic value.
Another sleazy story which is dominating the news is the Duke 'rape-which-wasn't-a-rape' case. I've tried to keep my distance from that story because it is so unseemly, and the decisions made by Mike Nifong are so bizarre as to defy any analysis. I only know that it is because of the racial angle that this absurd and sordid case has been pursued this far, and has received so much media attention. Then you add the 'feminist' angle to the racial angle, and it's more political correctness running amok.
Personally I'm weary of all the 'junk news' served up my the 'junk news media', otherwise known as the 'journalism community' or the MSM. There is no nutritional value there, and it's just as unhealthy for our minds as a steady diet of junk food is for our bodies.
The blogosphere contains its share of empty calories, too, but at least it provides an alternative and real diversity of opinion. Just as we need a variety in our food choices, we need varied opinions and ideas and points-of-view to choose from, not the same-old-same-old from the junk news purveyors.

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