What Reporters Should Do

I don’t really give a crap about Britney Spears, Madonna, or anything to do with American Idol. I am always outraged when I see junk like that in the headlines. What I want from my news is information about what those who run my community are up to. I will happily pay for news if it is worth paying for, but more and more even the big names have become less and less about real news. This editorial about the Baltimore Sun’s crime section is a great example. Real reporting is hard work, but vital to a community, it lets us little people know that those we put in power are doing our work, rather than just making themselves rich. Papers wonder how they are failing, I think it is because they have forgotten that real reporting is needed, not just the latest about some idiot celebrities.

Edit: Techdirt’s Mike Masnick has a different take on this, normally I line up with him on most stories, but I think he has missed the point here. He is saying that the author got the info inspite of not being a reporter, but I would say he only got the info because he used to be a reporter and knew the ropes via hard earned professional experience. Now do I think citizens should be looking for this kind of info and making it known? Yep. But I do think it will be a long time before some random blogger gets the kind of access a real reporter gets than has the impact when the story is published. I think it isn’t the competition from blogs that is killing the papers, it is the lack of exactly this kind of reporting. Reporters parroting predictable party lines or just quoting press releases are useless to me, but someone really digging into abuses of power are something I would pay for.

One thought on “What Reporters Should Do”

  1. I’m with you that Simon (the former reporter, now TV producer) got the information only because he used to be a beat reporter and knew the ins and outs. His position on the Sun missing the story was that everyone- our reduced press corps, the bloggers of the world and concerned citizens- all missed this one. We the people deserve the truth as written in the (non-redacted) reports, no matter how unpleasantly it may reflect on the policemen, but how many of us have the time or energy to track down this information? We’ve always turned to the news for such things.
    It reminds me greatly of Persian Gulf 1 when Bush the elder asked us all to trust the military to get us the story. That way we’d not get hurt and they could do their jobs. Major organizations in the US press nodded their heads took their press releases to write their stories from. The precedent was there and we’ve never gotten much of the truth out of them. Next time came around and the lack of oversight and accountability was (is still) staggering!!

    Just try, O mighty citizen journalist, to trace a single contract either from the war or the re-construction. Try to see who bid on it, who got it, what happened with it and where that money went. Whose money? Yours. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t do this or that only “paid” professional with their credentials and inside sources should, but can you do it? Blog about it and see if anything changes or if it becomes “news.” Best of luck!

    So, I don’t agree with Mike Masnick’s view at all. David Simon isn’t whining and his point is a very good one. The problem is that the media is really being consolidated into the hands of a few corporations who put $$ over content and now it’s all being relegated to the internet without concern about the checks and balances a the need for transparency in our government. Who will watch the watchmen? (Oooh, me! maybe this Sunday?- sorry, I digress) Apparently one former reporter is. Who will listen to him? What can we do about it? Stay tuned- news at eleven!

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