Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The "Not News" Department

"And in a related story, Dan Marino had trouble remembering where he put his keys, and might be a little late to breakfast with an old golfing buddy."

Seriously, why do we put up with this slop? Journalism is the laziest, most inconsiderate, sloppiest, hastiest profession on this Earth. Get with me on this. Have you ever watched one of those "local flavor" news stories and you knew someone who was in the story? Nine times out of ten, since you actually know the situation, there are multiple facts wrong with the story. Maybe it's the misspelling of a name or an incorrect hometown given, but it makes you think about how many mistakes there are in stories where you don't already have a first-hand account.

There is no trust on this side of the television screen. Journalism... an entire profession built around bothering people.


Ryan G said...

Didn't you hear? There's video of the incident! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjg_So1XDxw

Seriously, in this age it's about posting the news first, and posting as much as possible even if it isn't important. Like news shows telling us Lindsay Lohan went shopping.

night owl said...

I'm trying to restrain myself from writing a similar knee-jerk post about teaching ...

INTERNET journalism (when not connected to a news source involving professional journalists) has an issue. Agreed. BROADCAST journalism has a huge issue in this area. Agreed.

But as someone who has worked in print/internet journalism for more than 25 years, I will tell you that I have never been around a group of people more concerned about getting the facts right (under pressure filled deadlines) than the fellow journalists with whom I've worked.

Granted, sports journalism isn't exactly hard-hitting. But as an example, you don't know how many times we have fielded a call from a high school coach and have asked the following question: "how do you spell his name?" and received the following responses:

1. "I don't know. I can't read the roster. It got wet." (thanks for the help).

2. "My scorekeeper is new (classy, blame it on a 12-year-old girl)."

3. "Uh ... Shell. S-H-E-L-L" (it turns out the kid's name is Sherman, because the inconsiderate sloppy journalist looked it up after they became suspicious of the coach's half-assed spelling attempt.

Have you seen two people agonize over whether someone's name is spelled Lindsay or Lyndsey? Only if you have been in the sports department of a newspaper.

Or how about this question in which we tell the coach "those points didn't add up for the team totals. Did you read one of the player's totals wrong?" and we receive this answer:

"Just give the points to Katie Jones. (ooooookaaaaaayyy)."

Then there are the rosters submitted by coaches who have their OWN players' names misspelled. This happens every season without fail.

Or you have coaches who refuse to call in scores because their team lost, and parents bitch because only one team's results were in the write-up. Yeah, it's the paper's fault, not the coach who is grown-up enough to fucking know better.

I won't even get into the many stories in which the people you are interviewing lie in your face (I know, it's our job to get it right in spite of that, but given that, any reasonable person can see why accuracy is constantly at stake).

Journalism will never produce product that is 100 percent accurate the way people want it to be, but there are those who are trying extremely hard to get the facts right and deliver informative stories while getting very little help. I would love to see other professions put on display like journalism is and see others from outside their business pick them apart for every error. They don't call the newspaper "The Daily Miracle" for nothing.

I criticize local broadcast news as often as anyone, and there are AP stories that I groan about every day (Today AP pitched a story that Brett Favre is still retired, AND he doesn't know what he's going to do in retirement. AAHHHHHHH!).

But I don't like it when journalism is given the blanket coverage of "sloppy." There are many, many credible, painstaking journalists providing information that people use every minute. Unfortunately, too many people care only about about what's going on in Hollywood or in the NFL. The "pop" market is huge, and some segments of the media cater to it. SOME segments. Not all.

And sorry I bothered somebody while trying to get a story. There's a reader/viewer out there who demands that I get an accurate story. Unfortunately, it involves periodic "bothering."