Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bitch and Moan

Why am I so slow? Perhaps because I'm lazy or perhaps I just don't care. Or, perhaps I take the time to think issues through a little longer. That's it. I am simply more mature. At least that is the answer that strokes my ego the best.

There has been quite a bit said about the lack of journalistic qualifications of bloggers; especially in regard to the issue of statements made by Eason Jordan and the episode with Dan Rather and Texas National Guard records (TNG). Now that I've thought about these issues and milled them over and had time to formulate a response most of the articles that were plastered on the internet in weeks past have disappeared. Luckily, there is one that I could find that perfectly illustrates what I want to say. (here) Indeed, it precedes the current controversies by nearly two years and thus shows that the issue has been around for longer than Eason Jordon's problems.

I, in my lassitude would have let this issue slide if it were not for the fact that I've heard and read journalist and even journalism-students in universities bitch and moan about this in many ways for many years. Not against bloggers as a rule but against anyone who challenges the importance of the journalist role in the world. The gist of the argument is always the same "I'm a trained professional, don't try this at home."

I actually had a fairly long entry written about this issue filled with linked sources and lots of pithy comments. But the more I wrote the less I liked the essay. It is really hard to call someone or some group of people names, even if the names are true and deserved, without sounding like a jerk yourself. So in the end I'll just say that I have found most of the journalist I have met, with two notable exceptions to be entirely too full of themselves and to have completely erroneous perception of their value to society.

The problem with mainstream journalism in my opinion is simply that the reporters are too arrogant. Arrogance is problem because it blinds you to your faults. There have been studies done that show that People who perceive themselves as competent in their jobs are often time the ones that their peers judge to be the least competent. At least it appears to me that one of the worst ways that a Journalist can exhibit arrogance is to let facts and truth become subservient to some other, generally thought of as a "greater," cause.

When your cause becomes the truth and the facts are subservient to the cause the journalist is no longer journalist but propagandist. It is just that simple.

It is arrogant to think that you are better able to be impartial and divine the truth from error more correctly in all areas than others with more training in specific fields.

It is not arrogant to think your politics are better than mine but it is arrogant to hide your politics in a fake news story to convince me of your position and then think I'm stupid enough to believe you. In this case it is not only arrogant but unethical as well.

Journalist have no corner on the truth. They don't always know better. They are not always better at seeing the facts or truth. That is why people go to a medical doctor when they are sick and not to a journalist working for a medical newspaper.

Likewise I would expect a lawyer to write more cogent analysis of legal matters than a court reporter.

Thus, when bloggers who are printers point out errors in CBS memos they should be commended by journalist not browbeaten. A true professional knows how to say "I was wrong" an arrogant ass says "How dare you question me?".

This is why the best journalist I read are almost invariably sports reporters. Many of them really understand the games they cover. Also, sports is probably an area where fundamental disagreements are not life or death situations. I don't know that I can say the same about someone who covers the city beat.

This was Eason Jordan's real problem in claiming that the military was targeting journalist for execution. If he has proof of this then print it. If not he should not have said even off the record. This was Dan Rather's problem with the TNG memos. If he was duped by a huckster then he should admit as much and offered apologies to President Bush and moved on in ways that would have preserved his credibility.

Both men had lost track of what is importance and were trying to use their position to influence the world rather letting the facts make the story. I would think that the first rule of reporting is to speak to the facts not what you believe but cannot prove. Neither man did this.

That's all I really have say about Eason Jordan and Dan Rather. I don't know that I've said anything at all but I feel better about myself for saying it.

Until next time Fai-Mao the mature and civilized blogger

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