What is Journalism in 2012? I Used to Love Her

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Basketball, Uncategorized
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I graduated with a degree in Journalism in 2000. And I don’t recognize it anymore.

The 24 hour news cycle has devastated the profession in ways that have yet to be detected. Part of the problem is the Hell-spawned Beast we call a news cycle. The second head of that dreaded demon is the growth of reality television. There are reputable news men and women out there, but few and far between. I’ve worked in a newsroom and have seen newbie reporters crack under pressure. Cracks can show themselves in the form of error, hyperbole and fluff or filibuster. As a reporter, the deadline is akin to the waning 24 second shot clock or the fourth quarter buzzer for athletes. It’s ‘give me your best effort and let’s see how you shake out’. The best journalists, in all their capacities to include broadcast, print and radio, are consistently Kobe Bryant in the fourth. When these cream of the crop professionals meet up with DEADLINE, they create accurate, timely and relevant products. These professionals, most of the time, have graduated from some of the best journalism schools in the country, have double/triple/quadruple checked facts and present that information in the most palatable way for mass consumption. Then there are the fly-by-night pros. These journalists opine without source, speak contrarily to boost ratings and value their Twitter feed like crack/methamphetamine addicts. The drug of information used to be pure, but is now mixed with half-truths, opinions and flat out lies. And I have to admit, I have formulated my opinion about certain topics based on particular reporters/analysts/bloggers views. Lately, I’ve had to take a step back and recognize that journalism is not what it used to be. Many people say anybody can be a reporter, cameraman or news person with a cell phone, now. I disagree. Anyone can report, but only a reporter can give the news. I say that to say this. I learned media law, ethics, story structure and how it all meshes. The problem with ESPN, FOX and CNN is that they have to feed the BEAST-24hr-cycle EVERYDAY. I watched this clip from one of my favorite shows, ESPN’s First Take and it got my juices flowing.

Several valid points were made by NBA Analyst Jalen Rose, former columnist and reporter Skip Bayless and my personal favorite columnist and ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith. Rose pointed out name calling players, judging elite athletes and resented that his professional basketball credentials were questioned after spending 20-plus years in the sport. Journalism of 2012 has become a profession of entertainment over substance, much like reality television has gained a strangle hold on mainstream television audiences. Controversy sells. Conflict sells. Personalities sell. If you can gain a following, you are elevated to your own show, endorsements and merchandise. There is room for that, but the key is recognizing entertainment and recognizing real news. Day after day, I watch (because I like to be entertained mostly) First Take and the heavily opinionated diatribes of Skip and Stephen A. These guys are in the business of selling a product, First Take. They get paid for their opinion, but being journalists they have to have source material. That line is very gray, though. I can call a player GaSoft (Paul Gasol), a “Team Obliterator”(Terrell Owens) and LeBrick (LeBron James) based off of performance. Amare Stoudemire, formerly of the Phoenix Suns, now with the New York Knicks, called Gasol, soft in a television interview = source. Terrell Owens had several well publicized conflicts with coaches and teammates and moved from team to team = source. Lebron James missed a buzzer beater hard off the backboard = LeBrick James. Or does it? It depends on what you’re selling. In all these cases, source material can be substantiated, but should it be said? Absolutely, is the answer the world has accepted. They wouldn’t want it any other way, now. I want my twitter feed, rss feed, television broadcast and website to have as many eyes on it as possible. Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Bill O’Reilly and the aforementioned members of First Take do one thing really well: FEED THAT BEAST.


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