Thursday, June 09, 2005

In Journalism, Is Originality Extinct?

If there are any writers or future journalists out there, I cordially invite you to help shed some light on this issue for me. has put out it's 2nd annual Report on American Journalism - The State of the News Media 2005. This is an extensive report and with so much going on, I'll be reading it bit by bit daily. The report analyzes the current state of the media broken down into Cable TV, Network TV, Newspapers, Online, etc. Each section is broken down further into segments analyzing the current trends of each section, the audience, economics etc. It's a great report for any journalist to understand where the industry is going. You can read it here: The introduction highlights a film that was done by a two aspiring newsmen that gave a prediction of the future, a future in which Google and Amazon join forces to create a media juggernaut that is produced entirely by computers, causing a lawsuit by the New York Times and their subsequent closing. Fictional yes - but impossible? You can see the video here: In addition - I read a gossip piece today on MSN about Tom Cruise. Now, for the record, I don't like Tom Cruise. For whatever my reasons are, that's besides the point. A reporter in Australia, interviewing Mr. Cruise "crossed the line" when he questioned him on his relationship with Nicole Kidman. He asked if they "talked" and discussed raising their kids and their professional situations. When Tom got upset, the reporter replied stating that he was only asking what the people wanted to know. Gossip is out of control. There's no doubt about that. Gossip magazines are selling at a ridiculous rate. My question is this - as journalists don't we have a bigger responsibility than who is shtupping who? Maybe the people want to know the inner workings of a celebrities personal life, but as journalists - don't we have a moral responsibility to say quite frankly - you people are shit out of luck? We feed the people because the people want to know - it's the theory of what came first the chicken or the egg. Did they want to know all this shit first or did we tell them they wanted to know it? And either way - they're reading our words, if we cover something else - they just might become interested in that. It may not sound likely, but if you don't have Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's sex life thrown in your face every minute - maybe you won't mind listening to the current issues in your own neighborhood that actually affect you, or situations in the world that affect you just the same. Am I off base? I could write for hours on the subject, but I tend to go off on tangents. What it comes down to is this: Once upon a time, journalists - true journalists, went out in search of a story. They explored the world in such a way that when they came back to tell the story - they were trusted, admired and respected. That's how we learned about the world. Somewhere along the line, I think we've gotten lazy. Now, we can pick up a phone, log on or have a story faxed over to us without doing the leg work ourselves - without our personalities helping people relate to the story itself. Political commentators - I warned you, I hate them - can comment all they want, but when they start calling themselves journalists I find that to be a lie. It may be a strong opinion - but I can't see it any differently at this point. Obviously not all journalists are lazy hacks. There are thousands if not more respected publications, broadcasts, etc. But I wonder - what's the future hold of those journalistic hopefuls such as myself? Is originality extinct?

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