Saturday, September 08, 2012

I-journalism, a rant

From nicoleandmaggie comes this link and nicoleandmaggie's comments on it:
This post from Wil Wheaton reminded me why NPR annoyed me this morning.  They had some commentator come on to say that Obama’s speech failed because she didn’t think it was as good as Michelle Obama’s or Clinton’s.  Even if that’s true (and I think the speeches were all good but they were focused on different aspects of the message), I wasn’t aware that Obama was running against Clinton and Michelle Obama.  I thought he was running against Romney. 
Wheaton (at the link) goes on to call out whatever fool listed things you could do in the time taken by Clinton's speech to say "Because reading 12 pages of Proust is so much more important than understanding how badly the GOP has **** the country" and goes on from there.

 Absolutely right, n&m and Wil Wheaton! The persistent I-journalism and snarkiness that made me give up entirely on NEWSWEEK and a lot of other "real" media outlets (cough *TIME*cough) fails to notice that in its obsession with being "relatable," mainstream journalism is losing track of the big picture. It doesn't report; it opines. It doesn't analyze; it gives lists like the stupidly precious one that Wheaton cites.

Articles begin with four paragraphs of how the person discovered the issue or how it relates to hir life or, better yet, makes hir feel. The article continues with opinion, mentions the subject of the story, and ends with a catchy snapper of an ending that says nothing. When I hear or read "My journey began" or "I recall as a child" or some such thing, I say to myself "who cares what you think?" and turn the page or the NPR dial. (What I actually say is "Who gives a -- what you think?" but this is a family blog.)

Opinions are cheap, and, like feelings,  I've got 'em, and so do you. If you don't know more than I do about something--and although there are well-informed journalists, sometimes it's clear that they don't have a clue--then spare me your opinion.

 I didn't realize how bad this had gotten or how much I wanted actual, you know, facts and context until I started to read THE ECONOMIST, which despite its political bent actually provides information beginning with the first paragraph. Bill Clinton's speech gave that kind of information, too.

 Why can't we have information instead of "Why Clinton won over Obama in the media" or "5 Ways Michele Obama Gets Fabulous Arms" or "How Random Person feels about an issue that he's never give five minutes worth of thought to" or "Random stupid quotation from a politician" or "Click through this slide show to see 10 political scandals"?

Why does the media turn every issue  into some kind of gladiator sport with winners and losers?

Why does an episode of THE DAILY SHOW contain more information in 22 minutes than an hour of cable news?

 I know: I'm not providing facts here, either. But this is a blog, not a news outlet, and I am not a journalist. To the journalists out there: we are hungry for this stuff, which is why we liked the Big Dog's speech. How about it?


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I love the Economist. The NYT used to be a good paper. The WSJ still did journalism even after the NYT gave up, but now it's crap, too. I gave up on NPR a long time ago. Fortunately (for me) I am not actually that interested in news or politics, but this situation makes even someone like me sad, and ought to enrage anyone who does care about news, politics, and responsible journalism. Does no one think anymore? Does it have to be all feelings all the damned time?

undine said...

"Feelings . . . . feelings." I'm singing the song now, Dame Eleanor, in answer to your question.

CarlD said...

Every semester I tell my students about analysis, and every semester they say "Oh, you want my opinion." No I don't, I reply with a wry smile. You're entitled to your opinion, but I prefer mine. Now what? And with that, the life of the mind can begin.

undine said...

CarlD--I like your idea that the life of the mind can begin only when we get beyond the mere sharing of opinions to the sharing of thoughts.