The Toronto Star public editor, Kathy Englilsh is a credentialed journalist with years of experience and moxy. She is trying to awaken us to reality: society’s mirror, print me
Read her article to fully appreciate the commentary below: REPAIRING THE MIRROR
Printed news as we have today, will be history in less than 10 years and society will lose an irrecoverable foundation stone of democracy.
Journalists are more than just mirrors shining lights on events and news in society. They are the defenders of Truth, the bulwark defending against the assaults of alternative facts. They slog through the trenches of public corridors hunting for the real stories, exposing the blatant wrongs, enlightening the masses as to the wrongdoings occurring therein. To say they will be greatly missed is a gross understatement.
Journalists are first and foremost authenticators of veracity. They want to write the facts, the truth for they recognize that howling about a wolf without confirmation of validity soon becomes shallow yelping. They fear being caught writing a lie. Their reputation is founded on TRUTH and their reputation depends on continued adherence to authentic facts.
Today, the desire for instant gratification afforded by social media means more and more individuals have diminishing patience for the details about any breaking news story. Fewer and fewer people can wait, or even want to wait for the printed version. More and more newspapers and magazines are being crushed by drastically diminishing revenues as they are losing readers to social media. Consolidation and staff reductions are stop gap solutions to the inevitable end of printed media and with its demise, truth in the news will die. With that death, democracy will soon follow as more and more people succumb to the siren song of instant ‘news.’
But none of these digitally addicted readers can be persuaded to purchase subscriptions to printed media when so much news is readily available at the press of a button, for free or for far less than a subscription to an old fashioned newspaper. However, they do not realize what they are relinquishing at the cost of a latte or a side dish of french fries. The authors of instagrams, of snapchat, of Facebook blurbs have not paid any dues sweating in a newsroom or attending schools of higher learning. Worse, ignorance is not only bliss but it becomes smug in self-aggrandizement. [Google it!]
Speed is the new idol, instant access its evil twin. There in lies the rub as written by some old English scribe. [Google it!] The purveyors of online news ascribe to brevity of response and instant publication at the expense of validity and veracity. There isn’t enough time to fact check, to verify the factuality behind the item. Hence, partial truths and even outright untruths are published with the alacrity of speeding light with no thought to the repercussions. Personal ‘second thought’ is as extinct as the dodo [Google it!] Whoever says it first is accepted far too readily, without judgement, without skepticism.
And what does this mean for society overall? “Saying it as soon as possible” means it is likely to be read before any newspaper or magazine comes close to publishing it. Getting it there into social media as quickly as possible means no time for fact checking. Twitter has no time for truth verification. It’s ‘say it now, say it fast and say it as it is.’ Damn the torpedoes, damn the truth.
Editor English and who she writes about, Ed Greenspon, President of Canada’s Public Policy Forum, cry in the wilderness, howl in the forest, impotently and unheard. Worse however, we are losing our saviours of sagacity, angels of authenticity, defenders of democracy when we lose our hearing.
I am not ready to quit the battlefield. I am keeping my weekend subscription to the newspaper [and I reuse or recycle the newsprint.]
Have you thought about what you are doing about this situation?