Carnival of Journalism – For Whom Do We Report News?
I am delighted to see that the long dormant Carnival of Journalism has been brought back to life.
This month’s topic is “Regardless of how we present our stories to our audiences — online, on-air, or in print — do we truly take them into consideration?”
Journalism is, first and foremost, a business.
This might not make for the best journalism, but considering the alternative, which is bankruptcy and silence, it is the best possible option.
Without income there is no journalism. Income must come first, journalism must come second. No readers, no viewers, no revenue – no newspaper, not TV news, no journalism at all. So, as with most things in life, journalism is a compromise.
The primary task of any journalistic institution is to stay alive, and hopefully, to grow and expand. you only do this by offering content that the viewer or the reader wants to see. You cannot force content down people’s throats, no matter how important you feel it is to them. You cannot hold a gun to their heads and make them read something they don’t want to read or watch something they don’t want to watch. They just won’t do it.
In an earlier time, when we lived in what was, in retrospect, a veritable content desert (i.e., a few newspapers that come out once a day and three television networks that presented the news at 6:30 PM nightly), it was possible to have a far more arrogant approach to journalism. That is, take it or leave it, this is all you are going to get.
Those days are over. Today there are 2,000 cable channels and about a million websites competing for people’s eyeballs. And if they can’t relate to what you have put on the screen, they are going somewhere else, and they are never coming back. And then you are out of work. Period.
And what is it that people are looking for? Sorry to say, but most people are looking to be ‘entertained’ in one way or another. That is the idiot society that we have constructed for ourselves. And it seems to work – just look at The Daily Mail (a very profitable British tabloid) and Fox News (a very profitable US cable news channel).
They are enormously entertaining.
So the answer here is not to denigrate them and say, well quality journalism can now only exist as a not for profit enterprise.
Instead, the answer is to learn from them and make important information entertaining.
Admittedly, this takes a bit more work than simply jamming fact filled reports down people’s throats, but it can be done.
And, in fact, it has to be done, if you want to survive.
The alternative, sadly, is death or a very very small audience of people who only agree with you.