A view from the other side of the other side
I stumbled across this post
just now, and I think it merits a response. Basically, the author is trying to defend the rank and file workers in the traditional media, and she offers a couple of reasons why she does so.
Well, I have nothing personal against that, but I do have some thoughts on some of the stuff she wrote.
"I think some people have very unrealistic expectations about journalists. We are not the passionate truth seeking martyrs that so many readers would like to believe. Most of my peers are ordinary folks, for whom reporting and writing just happens to be a job."
That is, of course, indubitably so. When I gripe about the media, however, I'm usually griping about either the whole collective media or at least a publication. I mean, I'm sure most of the soldiers in Nazi Germany were really quite nice guys just doing their jobs too. That, however, does not mean that there was nothing wrong with the organisation they were in.
"And like it is in every situation, it's so easy when you're throwing stones from the other side...to pick up a magazine, or a newspaper and bitch about the unoriginality of stories, or how biased the media can be."
Of course it is. But then, we're paying publications for the privilege of bitching at them, aren't we? As the author later points out herself, these publications are commercial entities, and hence, if they wish to make money, they'd better satisfy their customers. I have encountered difficult customers as a salesperson before, and although I hated them privately, professionally I still had to concede that they had every right to expect satisfaction from me, because after all, they were paying for my services, albeit indirectly through the company which hired me.
"Yes, Tammy might have hit the online community aeons before someone else from the media sniffed out the scandal, but any self-respecting journo would have recognised the potential for a really interesting scoop that would get him a guaranteed byline in the paper the next day. And even so, has anyone ever considered that the media is perhaps, just as in-the-know as the rest of the online world? Newspapers are printed only once everyday, resulting in inevitable time lag, and less up to date information. But it only takes one second to click the button on your mouse before everything is up on the web for the world to see."
Given the constraints that she stated, yes, I agree that we must accept a time lag equal to the frequency of publication (or broadcast) for the publication (or broadcast), but why should we have to accept more than that? As she said, the online community knew about Tammy aeons before the media did. What was keeping them? The online community does whatever it does of its own volition and its members do not get paid. The media is getting paid. They are supposed to be professionals. Is it acceptable for them to be getting paid for what they do if amateurs are doing a better job than them? I mean, isn't the news supposed to by definition be new? I don't know about the rest of you guys, but when I buy the papers, I do so because I want to know what's going on in the world currently
. I think it is quite unacceptable if I see stuff there that has been going around online for "aeons". It smacks of complacency and, yes, laziness. Do these professionals not even know how to work a browser and an IM client? If that is so, then perhaps it is time they hired someone to sit around in their offices and blog-surf and chat for a couple of hours each day (i.e. what many people do anyway). If they can't even do that, then perhaps the traditional media is
"Second, I wish people would stop bitching about the trashy news you find in The New Paper. Come on. Admit it. The New Paper is like a mistress - you're totally in love with it, but it's a guilty indulgence you don't want to admit to the people around. I read The New Paper, and I totally dig its exposes. Sometimes, I don't want to read about Haditha and NKF anymore because the kaypoh in me loves a juicy story about the money-grabbing China woman and her poor, gullible, sex-deprived ex-husband.
And don't lie about how intellectual you are. Even smart people can be kaypoh. Even smart people read The New Paper."
Hmm, I don't see why she has to assume that everyone else is a nosey parker just because she is one. I can honestly claim to have read not more than 5 issues of TNP in my entire life. Then again, I am probably not such a good yardstick, since I am a true geek, and am hence much more interested in coding, news about new Linux kernels, DotA, etc than about some stupid sex scandal that does not concern me. Yeah, in my Utopia, all news would be tech news, woohoo!
"If there's readership, there are bound to be advertisers. If there are advertisers, there will surely be profits. What did you expect? Did you think newspaper publishers were self-sacrificing charitable organisations for which money is unimportant? Just like in any business, newspaper publishers want to rake in the profits too."
Hence I do not think it is unreasonable to expect their news to at least be current. As a matter of fact, I think we would all expect less from newspapers if they were indeed "self-sacrificing charitable organizations for which money is unimportant".
"If it means publishing a so-called tabloid newspaper with trashy stories, then that's what they'll do. As long as readership is sustained, it makes good business sense."
I think it is a sad state of affairs when newspapers become tabloids out of economic necessity. What's next? Child pr0n, bestiality and necrophilia columns justified in the name of "not neglecting our readers who just happen to be perverts"?
"Third, the media isn't always biased and non-objective. Our stories may lack colour and animation, but many times, it's because you - yes you - the general public are extremely inarticulate and seldom have any opinions of your own."
It's a vicious cycle. You feed your public garbage, hence they become dumber, hence they lack opinions, hence you feel free to feed them more garbage, ad nauseam
The favourite answer to a what-do-you-think type question is most often, 'Har? I don't know.'
Fuck. Don't know. What kind of a moron does not know what his own opinion is?
Well, I think it would be a fair bet that if I asked her for her opinion about whether she preferred Gentoo Linux or NetBSD, her opinion would either be an uninformed one or "don't know". How can you venture an opinion from a position of ignorance?
"So please, before complaining about the media, think first about what goes on on the other side. We are just normal folk doing our jobs."
Well, we, too, are just normal folk who expect to get our money's worth when we pay for something. We quite frankly do not care about the situation on the other side, because really, why is that any of our business? It quite simply does not concern us, and I hope any journalists or aspiring journalists, or indeed anyone who wishes to sell a good or service realises this. When people fork out, they expect to get what they forked out for. If you're unable to provide that, count yourself lucky if all you get are complaints instead of your ass sued off, which we all know has in fact happened to journalists before, for various reasons.