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Are Good Reporters a Dying, or Extinct Breed?

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Old 02-22-2007, 03:25 PM   #16
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Re: Are Good Reporters a Dying, or Extinct Breed?

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Originally Posted by JoeRedskin View Post
The rise of the opinionated commentator is simply a market function of the internet age. There is less "reporting" because the traditional job of reporting has been, to a great extent, replaced by the internet and consumers now need assistance in processing the volume of information readily available to them.

Prior to the internet, there was a need for truly objective reporting b/c not everyone had access to information. Reporting was necessary to discover and learn actual facts. Not how the facts were applied or could be applicable but, instead, simply what they were. Some filter was used as reporters had to determine what "Facts" were relevant to the matter being reported (e.g. - in reporting on the outcome of a football game, is the attendance at the game relevant?). As such, we relied on others (reporters) to gather information and present it to us in a reasonbly objective manner so that we could then process it and reach our own conclusions from the facts presented. The best traditional reporters gave us complete, relevant and accurate facts.

Since the explosion of the internet, however, having others gather factual information for us is rarely neccessary. Rather, there is a flood of information, both raw factual information and original source information, available to anyone who knows how to perform basic searches. Further, even if you can't find the information directly, you can probably find someone who has it or has a "link" to it. Unlike the pre-internet days, there is no dearth of factual data. Instead, "facts" come from all directions fast and hard and it is easy to be overwhelmed (Anyone who has done any serious internet research on Global Warming and its causes can attest to this). Thus, instead of a need for facts, people have a need for processing the various facts presented .

Given the plethora of factual information available, the current need is for "commentators" to assist people by providing the expertise neccessary for determining what is relevant and discerning how the disparate, and sometimes contradictory, facts interrelate. By its nature, the processing of facts is a much more subjective function than the gathering of facts. Because of the sheer volume and diversity of factual information available, just about any position, point of view or conclusion can be supported. Again, the BEST commentators perform their function as objectively as possible and try not to be "outcome oriented" but rather see their function as providing their audience with the necessary tools to come to its own conclusions.

Rather than attempt to seek out balanced commentary, however, many individuals simply look for the commentator who provides the factual support and argumentative back up for their pre-existing belief. These individuals look for commentators who "make sense" of the competing factual information and provide the agumentative organization that, in turn, allows the individuals to logically - and factually - justify their previously held opinions. Thus, commentators who provide the "expertise" to support popularly held beliefs (or, in today's competive information market, widely held beliefs) will always find a market and turn a profit.

In any real analysis, facts and expertise are essential. The question should always be - despite my previously held beliefs - "What should I believe?" Unfortunately, and to the profit of the Maher's, Limbaugh's, Dobbs', etc. too many people ask "How can I support what I already believe?".
I agree some what but I disagree about the role of the internet and alternative sources has played. For so long we had the three main news networks and took for granted they where reporting the facts so we could then determine how we felt about what they reported. Then came the internet and other news sources and guess what we found out that we where not getting a balanced reporting of the facts and these other sources where pointing out what they where not reporting. Take the Dan Rather (I think it was him) who presented the story about Bush skipping out of the service or along those lines (happened to be right before the last election). Then reports started to surface on the internet that they where forged documents and then the station had to eat crow.It was also assumed that they really knew the documents where forged but went with the story anyways. This is just one example but there are 1000 others where the alternative news sources are giving us some balance.
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