I was for a brief time a journalism major in college. That I had run around during high school with a video camera was mistakenly assumed to mean that I would be good at writing headlines and lead paragraphs. “He likes video cameras, he should be a journalist.” (Why didn’t someone say, “he likes vidcams, he should go to film school.”) Journalism was a mistake then…and it is especially one now. It wasn’t that the school wasn’t good at churning out J degrees. (They did have Ernie Pyle’s name on the building –> http://www.journalism.indiana.edu/news/erniepyle/) And, it wasn’t that I was unable to write. It came come down to the philosophy of journalism. And, I don’t fault the school for that. I fault the industry itself. It changed from what it was in the time of Ernie Pyle & Edward R. Murrow to instead a business that cares more for the bottom line.

Take some recent examples of journalism at work. The missing girl in Aruba. The Lance Armstrong doping allegations (again). Everything to do with Iraq.

The Aruba thing could be done now for all I know. I doubt it, though. If I were to watch TV news more I might know. Mostly gave that up long ago, though. I will watch the weather and sports. That’s about it. But, there is little I can say about the Aruba situation from what I do know that would be positive. My “BS Radar” says that while the situation for that girl is tragic, the TV news has only made it worse.

With Lance, I think we can see how the problem with news as a business isn’t restricted/limited to just the US. It is an international problem. The Tour is over. Lance has retired. It is no longer a story. That now, however. his reputation is challenged seems suspect. Yes, I do have a bias. I’m American and I’m a cyclist. I believe him. But, I also believe they are trying to sell newspapers and they have invented the issue. Why not suspect every cyclist to ever compete, if we are to suspect Lance. Why not suspect Eddy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddy_Merckx or Anquetil http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Anquetil or even Lemond http://www.greglemond.com/site/aboutgreg.shtml? Exactly. To do so would be heresy. And, I’m not proposing it. So, let’s not sully Lance either.

Iraq is simply now reported as either vietnam deja vu or our glorious triumph of right vs. wrong. Egads! Anything less (or more), I assume, isn’t worthy of mention because it won’t get ratings…it won’t sell ads…

So, instead, I look to the web for news. I read the Drudge Report daily. I occasionally scan cnn.com. I visit a lot of industry specific sites (adage.com, adweek.com, autonews.com, adjab.com, adfreak.com, adrants.com). I visit a couple of blogs like http://www.gapingvoid.com/ or http://www.boingboing.net/. And, I visit http://www.fark.com/. I love FARK. It is a great site. Yes. It has booby ads for the 12 year olds. Yes. It appeals to a base male instinct most of the time. Yes. It is very irreverent. But, it is also surprisingly democratic. Stories that are worth telling…and stories that are worth knowing about…are what get posted to the site. No BS. No political slant. No hidden agendas. What news is supposed to be in my opinion.

Maybe I was jaded by the OJ incident. Maybe I am an idealist. But, when news becomes more about selling the sizzle and less about reporting the facts, I tune out.

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