before the internet and social media became primary new sources, journalism was quite different. absent the current instantaneous immediacy and the sheer value of clicks, periodicals were driven to produce quality reporting. journalists had more time to invest in their product.
in these earlier times, journalists were often not the story originators. they would purvey other news sources for stories. an example of this type of relationship is that of the los angeles times and the daily bruin.
the daily bruin is the university of california at los angeles’ newspaper. the ucla student newspaper has all the trapping of a small town publication. with a circulation of 6,000.00, it covers a wide range of topics from student government, campus events, campus speakers, and a dynamic surrounding neighborhood. it also reports on a top national collegiate sports program.
when i attended ucla, i would converse with daily bruin staff writers. on occasion, they would cover and write an important story. these articles would often generate interest from the los angeles times beat writers. the la times writers then would take the daily bruin story and use their resources to enhance the story to make a more comprehensive article. the la times’ prestige opened the door for their writers to gain access and obtain interviews that were beyond the reach of daily bruin writers.
the bruin writers were both angered and amused by these instances. they were unhappy that their work was appropriated. on the other hand, the instance gave them confidence that they had the ability to write articles worthy of national publication. in other words, they realized that they could make it in journalism.
in those days, publications supplemented their reporting with news services such as AP. these articles provided both filler and covered information beyond the reporting reach of the particular publication.
times have changed. media outlets now take stories generated by others and merely regurgitate them as their own. they make no effort to improve upon the original story. or verify the story’s sources. there is no fact checking. as a result, readers often get diluted and disjointed stories. if the original story contained false or inaccurate information, the bad content is merely parroted. the unreliable information continues to spread.
this modern journalism is dangerous and reckless. it is arguably not journalism. it is the equivalent of writing a cliff’s notes version of the original article.
the greater danger is that search engine algorithms often give greater value to stories coming from these larger media. thus, the actual media source of the story may not appear on the top of a search. thus, those seeking news on a particular topic are being served up a diluted and unsourced article.
further, the media sources that publish articles which turn out to be bogus are not scrutinized for their lack of credibility. the self appointed arbiters of truth, i.e. twitter and facebook, do not police these sites and label them as non credible sources.
in sum, the simple reading of a news article is not sufficient in order to understand and appreciate its content. readers must also look at whether the article is the original source. readers must look at the nature and quality of the sources referred to within the article. thus, how the article was written may tell you more about the story than the facts of the story itself. the article’s construction itself may reveal that the article itself is bogus propaganda. the article’s construction may also reveal good quality journalism that can be relied upon.
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