Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Note to a Journalist

A note to William Rivers Pitt after reading Your Media is Killing You in truthout:

I think what you say is on target, and the reality of the matter is that the Internet, in many ways as powerful and sophisticated a technology as television, has become the new repository of serious journalism, even as it is the repository of garbage as well.

The web is a better medium for journalism anyway, in so many ways. It's more like print, and makes it easier to archive, link, fact check, cross check, consider.

It could be, with the rise of Fox News, that we're seeing the beginning of the end of television as a serious news medium. As a technology, it seems to beget sensationalism.

And it's just too tempting a tool for propagandists -- we could never keep the advertisers from owning it.

With Fox, we in the USA have finally surrendered to this temptation (in so many other countries, TV was always an extension of the governing clique, so this pattern is nothing new).

Serious, cool-headed reasoning maybe just isn't a good fit for TV, at least not in prime time situations, with millions watching -- on cable, with its academic and community access channels, maybe it'll be different.

TV will remain an important social force and tool. "Reality TV," artificial though it is, is likely just the beginning of many branching genres, some of which may be worth celebrating (one of my hopes). And Sesame Street is the harbinger of something positive as well.

But maybe this whole format of a talking head anchor is on the way out. Fun while it lasted?

I tune in TV news sometimes. But if I want to get a handle on what's going on in the world, I turn to the Internet. I expect it will become more and more this way.