As television news broadcasts have evolved public understanding of what constitutes journalism has changed significantly. From the days of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings cable news has brought us into the era of pundit commentary delivered by those who have little or no experience in journalism, its ethics, nor its responsibility to provide accurate, objective, Fair and Balanced reporting. Should we be concerned? Many already are. Below are two, yes, opinion pieces addressing these very concerns. The first is written by Alexa Kravitz, journalism student at the University of Maryland which appeared in the American Journalism Review and second, based on Kravitz, delves deeper in subject.
No Experience Necessary?
Many political talk shows are hosted by non-journalists. Is there a problem with that?
MSNBC President Phil Griffin certainly doesn’t think so. His hires on the liberal-leaning network include non-journalists Rachel Madow, Lawrence O’Donnell, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Melissa Harris-Perry. His rival Fox features such non-journalist mainstays as Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren.
Griffin isn’t shy about vocalizing his strong opinions on the issue. “I’m sorry, I don’t care about journalists,”he said in an interview with Tampa Bay Times media writer Eric Deggans. “I want fair minded, smart people who understand the world, who can interpret it and if they’re journalists, great. This notion that somehow you have to have done something to earn so-called journalist credentials? Stop.”
But critics fear that the proliferation of hosts with no grounding in journalistic ethics and traditions comes with a steep price.
A Journalism-Free News Media
The very definition of “journalist” is being reimagined by those aiming to enrich themselves. And, of course, all this is happening as the relatively few genuine journalists left in America are periodically lambasted for the horrific crime of actually reporting real news and questioning power.
But for all of these trends, none is more disturbing than recent moves to challenge the the basic assumption that journalism is even necessary anymore. In an economy that fetishizes synthetic derivatives rather than tangible products and in a political cauldron that periodically manufactures notions of “post-partisan,” “post-racial” and “post-industrial” utopias, the ascendant notion in the media industry is that news organizations and American democracy can survive and thrive in a “post-journalism” era — one that wholly removes journalism from the news media.