Don’t get weird, but I’m about to pull out the soapbox. Are you ready for it?
What the hell is happening to the news? I know this is not a new complaint as the past few weeks have been a perfect example of the stupidity that the 24 hour news cycle breeds. CNN has been on a loop about this lost plane, positing theories from terrorism to aliens as explanations to the unexplainable. Oscillating blame from the pilots to real bad guys to simple mechanical failure. No one really knows what happened, so lets create hours and hours of television and let everyone just guess. Who cares if they contradict one another or even themselves. Just keep guessing – that’s what news has become.
When was it that journalism got so sloppy? Gone are the days of the hardcore editor sitting behind his desk, cigar stub hanging from his lips, yelling at the junior reporter; “But its not news kid!” “Can you PROVE it?” That guy must be rolling in his grave when he reads the headlines these days. News is no longer based in just the facts, editorial has seeped into the mainstream news and opinion seems to be the default proof when the hard facts prove to be too elusive.
I know, I know. Its not a recent problem – its been going on for a long time now. And to be honest its bothered me for a long time. But today just seemed to be the day that it broke me. Scrolling through my news pages and twitter feed today I was struck by the posts by Christiane Amanpour reporting on the state of play in Crimea when right in the middle of all this REAL news there’s a post about a fight between Russia and the Ukraine being about who invented the recipe for Chicken Kiev. I kid you not. WTF is that all about? Christiane? Is that you? Did you hire US Airways social media department to run your Twitter account? Come on! Of all the real true journalists left in this world, how can you mention the expulsion of the Crimean leader in one post and then a f%^&ing recipe in the next???
The next thing that got me today was an article in The Globe & Mail. For decades, the Globe has been a pillar of Canadian print media. This has been a credible national daily newspaper. But lately they seem to be fixated on a potential real estate bubble happening in the Canadian housing market. Weekly and sometimes daily for the past few months they have been the harbinger of doom for the Canadian real estate market and who knows – they could be right – but today’s article absolutely took the cake. Today they published an article about a possible exploding bubble that could see a reduction in home prices of as much as 25% within a year. Included in the article was a calculator so you could see just how much money you would lose if your house was to lose 25% of its value. Filled with disclaimers, they included this calculator on their iPhone app. To be fair it also allowed you to slide the scale of the percentage from the potential 25% loss to a possible 25% gain. But still – HOW IS THIS NEWS? By offering the quick click through to a calculator which defaults to the doom and gloom of a 25% loss in value seems to only perpetuate fear on something based in speculation and not fact. Furthermore, isn’t the housing market based on speculation so if you continue to propose that there is a housing bubble about to burst and spoon feed this to the masses will this not become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
I work with the media so much and while some writers are great and actually check their facts, most rely on Wikipedia to check for accuracy. Wikipedia? Are you kidding me? Granted, I work in entertainment and getting someone’s first album title correct is not a matter of life or death. But these are the simple things that should be done right. Perhaps this is a symptom of our voracious need for news and information. We crave it. We breathe it. We literally hold it in the palms of hands all the time. We need news and we need it faster than ever. There isn’t time to make sure that the news that’s coming out of our “trusted” sources is accurate or even good information. Its just information that we are clambering after at an alarming pace. I guess I have to blame myself for needing to read 20 news apps every morning and expect new and different information with each one. Can I really complain when Christiane Amanpour has to fill column space with recipes?