Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Morals of Journalism

When considering our choices as purveyors (and now civic participants) in the media, it's hard to be too careful about believing what we read/see and why. It would be fantastic if I could be able to switch on my TV or check my news feed and just take for granted that everything on there was unquestionably accurate and (more importantly) relevant.

Journalism isn't just about being that romantic ideal of distributing the "facts" of the situation. Too often, I have felt that the media has started to get so soft and pander so much to mainstream popular culture (i.e. birth certificates, royal weddings) that a great deal about what is important and of grave concern to our everyday lives is lost in the wash of senseless journalism that seems to be getting more and more pervasive.

I don't mean to sound like one of those doddering old biddies who insists that things just aren't the way they used to be (because the way it used to be wasn't so awesome either!) but I think there needs to be a reckoning in the world of tabloid lust and popular bubblegum rhetoric.

A parent's job is to guide their offspring in the morals and values that allow them to function within the laws and social norms of society. Without this, William Golding offers a dire perspective on "kids gone wild" when there is a loss of formative guidance. In a way, we, as a society, are the parents of the media. We created it, and we have a responsibility to guide it. If we demand crap, that's what we'll get. If we explain to our offspring that we don't appreciate these distractions into irrelevant and sometimes damaging forays of journalistic nonsense, there might be a move toward more positive, helpful and moral journalistic practices.

However, if we--as parents--forget our own morals and values, how can we be good parents to the media? We have a responsibility to demand good journalistic practices, but first we have to know what they actually are.

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