Okay, I’ve been working on this platonic ideal of a post about the media for weeks now, and instead of becoming the definitive post on mainstream news reporting, it’s become nothing. So, now I’m thinking about horses and getting back on them.
My thoughts are basically this: Some time back I read an interesting criticism of feminist blogs from a womanist blog. She talked about how feminism don’t like mainstream media and mainstream news, but instead of working on changing them, feminists blogs tended to just react to them. I can’t say if this is true in every feminist blog (certainly groups like Girl Wonder; are working to change the media they criticise), but I certainly see it in a lot of them.
And so I got to thinking - what would a news source that I could get behind look like? How would it work?
I know that funding and staffing are serious issues. Like a lot of people, I have that image in my head of the intrepid report, living off coffee and a sense of responsibility, the maverick, going out and finding those stories that no one else will follow, getting the big lead, blowing everyone away with hir some scandal that brings down a government. These fictional reports live entirely for the thrill of the chase, since they rarely seem to make enough money to get more than a seedy apartment and a constant influx of coffee.
Reality doesn’t seem that far off, from what I can tell. According to this very good review of a book that talks about the problems with the British news, there are only four reports to cover Cardiff, South Wales, and the Welsh Assembly. I know Wales is small, but it’s not that small! A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) works in the news room of hir local radio station. “Works”, of course, makes it sound like zie has coworkers, but no - zie works alone. To cover all the news, write the stories, make it out to any and all events, and still be bright-eyed and bushy tailed every morning on the air, starting at o-dark-hundred. How is someone supposed to get all the news, analyse it and give out strong news reports with that much on hir plate?
Is blogging the way of the future of the news? Certainly some of the bigger stories of the past year have started out being blogged and flogged by smaller blogs, until picked up by bigger blogs, and then suddenly they’re front page news. (The most obvious example of this I can think of is The Jena 6, but I know there’s been others.) Certainly a lot of things are brought to my attention through blogging, with passionate and insightful posts varying from the latest attempt (or success) to ban certain articles of clothing to long discussions on the state of privacy (or lack thereof) in the UK. I know when I blog about things on LJ, it brings things to other people’s attention who might have missed it otherwise.
I don’t think that’s the right answer, though. Most people don’t get paid for blogging (I know there are exceptions, but they are rare), which means they’re writing these passionate posts in their “spare” time. Most people who blog don’t have any investigative reporting training. Most people who blog do it in such a way that they can’t really be held accountable if they turn out to be incorrect about something.
I want a news media where I feel they are talking about something important - not making the news, but reporting the news. I want a media where half the stories are not recycled AP stories. I want a media that doesn’t focus so much attention on the antics of various celebrities, and then more attention on how awful it is that the media focuses on the antics of various celebrities. I want an independent media, that isn’t all run by one or two big umbrella companies across the various countries.
But I don’t know what that would look like.
What are your thoughts? What do you want out of the news media? What do you think a more vibrant and relevant-to-you news media would look like? What do you think the answers are? I’m curious as to your thoughts.