The death of journalism

I am a fan of true journalism. Those guys/gals who pursue this craft have my respect and thanks. From Watergate to covering the local PTA meeting they bring parts of the world to you that would have passed you by without them.

I do not mean biased crap journalism like Fox News. I am referring to unbiased news hounds who go all out and even have put it all on the line for the endless pursuit of the story.

On February 14, 1980 Mr. Walter Cronkite retired from his anchor chair for the evening news. Ever since then the US news media has been dumbing down and compressing to be sexy sound bites for the ever shortening attention span of the average consumer.

In 1982 the newspaper USA Today was launched. They perfected the big pictures, shiny graphics, short article news delivery. This was a sharp contrast to the old staid newspaper filled with 80% or more words with small pictures interspersed throughout.

I like to compare this to giving the average person seeking entertainment the choice of reading Douglas Adams or Dr. Seuss. They both deliver entertainment, They both have their place just with differing levels of depth and time commitment.

So as the decades continue their never ending march towards tomorrow the US adapted to less in-depth journalism and shiny pictures.

With the advent of online news even more information was available then every before with near instant results. The double edged blessing/curse of online news is the fact people can use this style of media dissemination with such precision they miss the general news.

If you picked up a mid-nineteenth century newspaper to read an article of interest you were still exposed to multiple stories on various topics just by glancing at the front page. For example when you picked up a newspaper on December 8, 1941 to check the standings of your favorite sport's team you would have learned by glancing at the front page that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor.

With the way news is online now if you are interested only in a given area of news you can got to sites dedicated to that topic and miss the rest. It is a great irony with the most information available since journalism began people have become more insular in their news consumption.

This has also created the 24 hour news cycle. Between cable news and online news you are never far from knowing what is happening when. The problem this creates is how to fill the moments of lame that pop up now and then and you have to come up with something, anything of interest to keep the viewers locked in.

So instead of putting out quality it is all about quantity. No matter how mind numbingly devoid of content they have to put forth something to keep viewer attention.

How else would a Paris Hilton, a person who is famous for being... famous, exist in the national spotlight? Is it really anyone's business that while in college President Bush's daughter partied?

Instead of allowing journalism to limp along and ruin the good will and respect earned in the past I am pronouncing it deadt. As of right now journalism is dead. Pay your last respects by turning off the tv/online news and reading your local newspaper tomorrow one last time.

~The Dad