A Notable Comment

At the Belmont Club, a very apt comment by BC Alexis on the the absence or presence of mainstream media with regard to the Kermit Gosnell trial; I have bolded the bit that I found the most amusing:

“It takes more than mere assertion for a media outlet to become legitimate. The Washington Post and the New York Times presume they are more authoritative than the Daily Mail, but are they? If the Daily Mail does a better job of actually reporting the news, what is keeping that paper from becoming a new source of legitimacy?

I think one principal problem with the media is that it is filled with reporters rather than historians. Newspapers (and often government agencies) often have the attention span (and institutional memory) of an aphid, while historians are supposed to know historical context, are trained to tell long stories, and construct frameworks which can put current events into context. Is it investigative reporting if one discovers scandalous material that is over one hundred years old? What is the “expiration date” for a scandal? When is it no longer “newsworthy”?

Another problem is with how the media can be so easily manipulated. It is a lot less work to copy and paste a press release than to bother to fact check one’s sources. The White House press corps has long had a strong reputation as a horde of brown nosers who get regularly enticed by dangled stories that look big and juicy – until one finds out how those stories had been pumped with water by media strategists who were leading the reporters by the nose.

Distorted media narratives don’t only promote amnesia – they also promote the very polarization that the same media outlets then decry. People don’t like getting lied to and people don’t like getting lied about. And it is not easy to correct the record once a newspaper prints a lie – it’s nearly impossible. That is why a track record for truthfulness is so important. Given how newspapers (digital or print) cost money, who is going to pay reporters for telling the truth? Is there any way to promote incentives for honesty in reporting, as opposed to telling people what advertisers (or journalism professors) want to hear?”