At Random: The state of journalism in our modern world

With the advent of social media, proper journalism is more important than ever

About a month ago, I covered a town hall in Vernon and, just as the two politicians finished answering audience questions, a man approached the microphone and asked, “How are we going to get this information out because media isn’t doing it?”

Grinning, the politician promptly responded: “Well we have our own platforms you can follow.” She referenced Facebook among other platforms. “But I think there’s something to be said about a business model that can’t keep up with the technology.”

Many in the audience clapped and cheered in agreement.

While this worried me, it didn’t much surprise me (it also didn’t affect my reporting). Our job as journalists — and why we spend time in universities and colleges – is to learn how to present the truth as effectively, accurately and as balanced as possible regardless of opinion.

Related: Who pays for journalism? One way or another — you

Related: Newspapers matter, now more than ever

With the advent of social media, this phenomenon had been building for years, finally, coming to a head during the 2016 U.S. election.

Having lived in Ohio while pursuing my undergraduate degree, I saw first-hand the effects social media had on the production, distribution and consumption of information. Suddenly, anyone with an internet connection and an opinion believed they could be a journalist and were taken as seriously.

Because Ohio is a swing state, I went to school with people on either side of the political spectrum and witnessed friends on Facebook sharing “news articles”, from unknown sources or, even worse, articles they did not even take the time to read beyond the headline.

Coincidently, this week, while I was writing this piece, questions surfaced in the U.S. about certain news outlets “killing stories” based on political views. Whether this turns out to be true or not, it brings up a familiar conversation about the difference between commentary and journalism — whether consumers can actually tell the difference.

Yes, it’s noteworthy that the journalism business model needs reconfiguring — and is currently in the process of trial and error (advertising models vs. subscription) and newsrooms are shrinking all over the country. But, the biggest problem I had with what happened at the town hall wasn’t the politician who took a stab at the media (that’s expected), it was the public’s response. It seems people are willing to disregard information if the news doesn’t fit their worldview.

Related: Daily publication comes to an end

Related: Postmedia to close more local newspapers, cut staff by 10 per cent

Deliberate dismissal of ethical journalism in place of personal beliefs doesn’t only hurt those of us who are in the industry, it hurts society at large. And while criticism is expected and is an important and crucial part of the journalism world — letters to the editor are encouraged — I think people should know that most journalists chose the profession, many in spite of the current climate, to better society, provide citizens with vital information and act as watchdogs for governments and officials like the MP who visited Vernon last month.

George Orwell once said: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.”

He had a point.

Related: Local stakeholders say ‘newspapers matter’

See our video from last year’s newspaper week:

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.

Just Posted

Art After Dark may spark romance in Vernon

Vernon Public Art Gallery makes art accessible through alt-date night

‘Fuel Good Day’ pumps funds for local causes in the Okanagan

10 cents of every litre pumped at the Regional Co-ops on Tuesday was donated to non-profits

16 pot shops green-lighted by Vernon politicians

More recreational cannabis stores could be sprouting in town soon

Fines urged for owners who let their Vernon property go to ‘Sh**sville’

In dealing with former Legion building, city looking at options

Vernon race organizer head-butted by homeless man won’t be stopped

Man arrested after allegedly stealing race flags, assaulting woman in Kalamalka Lake park

Third instance of Trudeau in skin-darkening makeup emerges

Another instance of Trudeau using makeup to darken his face has emerged, within 24 hours of the first

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of top managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

Photos surface of Conservative candidate at B.C. event with people in blackface

The controversial “Black Peter” character has been a feature at Sinterklaas celebrations

Summerland cadet earns glider wings

Summer training program was held at CFB Comox on Vancouver Island

$13 million Kelowna cannabis facility deal terminated

GTEC Holdings did not give a reason for the purchase’s cancellation

Arrest made after fourth threat closes a Kamloops high school in nine days

Mounties have been chasing down a series of threats made to schools across Kamloops

West Kelowna motorcyclist awarded $132K for traffic accident

Supreme Court of British Columbia finds pickup truck driver liable for motorcylist’s injuries

Morning Start: Ever wonder where official NFL footballs are made?

Your morning start for Thursday, September 19th, 2019.

Nelson man accused of swimming naked at Toronto aquarium expected to plead guilty

David Weaver, of Nelson, was arrested and charged in October of last year

Most Read