Why is journalism dead? Because they truly have no guidance or sense to resurrect themselves.

I

It is an Age of Propaganda where you have journalists becoming paupers relying on their various regimes to financially support them. The Guardian got all happy because New Jersey will throw some pennies to prevent journalists from facing the consequences of their own ineptitude. ($5 million for an entire state's print media? That won't do anything but make the taxpayers of the state five million dollars poorer).

The moralizing spin that newspapers are important for "civic health" is rubbish. Journalism is a business and not a public service.

And the Internet has taken over what journalism did when they controlled the flow of information. The idea obviously stems from a bygone era -- and when you think in the past, you have no future because you have no idea about the state of your present reality.

Worse still, why are you forcing taxpayers to pay for a product that -- if they wanted to support -- could do it directly?

And why throw money in a black hole -- you are just encouraging the same bad behaviour that brought a profession to its ruin?

What will change? Nothing because you cannot throw money at a problem and expect a miracle.

You need fundamental changes -- and it is easier to start fresh with a game plan and expertise going in, than part with taxpayers's money on a lost cause.

And with strings attached, those paupers are not going to reporting on anything that will threaten their sugar-daddies.

Start fresh. Have a plan. Get expertise.

And see the reality of the situation.

If journalism was functioning, it wouldn't have died. It was sick for a real, and it got sicker because people in it never thought they had any flaws.

But reality and journalism have been on the outs for a long time now.

II

The stupidity does not end there.

Vox, the partisan online site that drowns itself in sophistry, has this oblivious review:

Journalism has a trust problem. The podcast In the Dark proposes a compellling solution.

The terrific series, examining flaws in the criminal justice system, stands up for old-fashioned reporting.

Todd VanDerWerff's puerile ramblings begin with the same perpetually oblivious and profound lack of industry self-awareness:

In an era when the media isn’t trusted by huge swathes of people and when the president himself cries “fake news” at every opportunity about stories he doesn’t like or finds inconvenient, I’m fascinated by how different outlets are trying to navigate the shoals of reader distrust and confusion.

It could not possibly be because journalists did many things to undermine their own credibility.

And of course, arrogance as the next utterance proves:

I frequently find myself wondering if many publications are written less for their readers than for other journalists. They rely heavily on a certain amount of savvy not just with the subjects journalists cover, but with the mechanics of journalism itself.

Of course, journalists are too smart for the dumb rubes they are forced to rely on for their living.

Memo to Todd VanDerWerff: you do realize some of those audiences you alienated have graduate degrees, have white collar jobs, and are doctors, professors, researchers, lawyers, engineers, judges, psychologists, authors, teachers, accountants, pilots, and other educated professionals who are not stupid?

You obvious lack the savvy you have fooled yourself into thinking you have. Get over yourself.

It gets worse:

In my chosen field of entertainment journalism, there are certainly publications where the intended audience is incredibly savvy about these things. A piece I write about the economics of the television industry will have to cover more of the nuts-and-bolts basics than one in, say, Variety, because the presumed audience of Variety is made up predominantly of people already in that industry, whereas my presumed audience probably doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about who’s going to get the streaming rights to Killing Eve.

First, "entertainment journalism" is not hard news. It is soft news. And Variety is a trade publication, which has a completely different mandate than general outlets. I wrote for both.

Second, your job in both cases is to speak to your audiences and inform them, not down to them. There is no excuse not to do it.

I had no trouble taking an audience's experiences into my equations. How hard is it to tell the people that certain diseases have no cures? Or that a law will cost taxpayers's more money? Or that a country has no laws against a certain danger?

Where is this nonsense coming from?

I laughed at this part:

This is one of the reasons the podcast In the Dark works so well. Each season tackles a new unsolved crime as a window into problems with the American justice system. The show’s reporters are invested not just in presenting their findings to the audience, but in showing the audience all of the work that went into them — sometimes quite literally.

You mean how I did Chaser News way back in 2007?

You mean like that? Except in this case, there seems to be a lot of filler unimportant ambient sound effects that have no purpose except to pretend that people are doing work and want applause for it.

No real facts.

There is some serious disconnect from reality here because this is nothing but cheerleading advertising for a journalism product, making it rank propaganda.

And none of it would remotely have saved journalism. The structure of the podcast is no different than anyone else.

To the author of this fluff piece, the solution is to go back in time when we have technology that makes that obsolete.

Just how credulous is Vox?

Credulous enough to have no clue who this journalism thing was supposed to work.

III

Perhaps the worst opinion piece I have ever read on the matter is Nelanthi Hewa's drivel from The Hamilton Spectator with this oblivious headline:

The search for truth in journalism must also consider humanity

As consumers, our eyes are incredibly valuable. Maybe it’s important to know when to close them.

Are you actually serious?

The beginning of the article is absolutely shocking in its tone deafness to reality:

"You're exploiting me," she said. "You're trying to dig something out of me." She didn't hang up. Instead, there were the sounds of the key in her office door, her loud, shaky breathing. 

I whispered an apology and ended the call.

I had been a journalism student at Western University for less than a year, but I was already used to feeling nervous as I planned my questions before an interview, or feeling elated during one when I heard the perfect quote. I was wholly unused to feeling ashamed for doing exactly what I was taught.

Do you actually understand what journalism is supposed to be about?

No, obviously. No, there is no humanity in willfully shutting your eyes.

Memo to Nelanthi Hewa: when you are a chronicler of reality, many people will become angry at you. You are not there to get a pat on the head. That is a highly unethical and immoral expectation. (This is no different than this misguided article suggesting that previous published allegations should be off limits unless a victim signs off on it, regardless of the consequences. Reality rarely is a comfortable experience, and those who comes from the snowflake school of life make things worse by suggesting that people should be weakened. You publish something, you have it on the public record. The end, and it is about time that the Victorian notion of victim's being weakling children be put to rest.)

People throw up the Moral Outrage facade in a bid to hide unflattering things from a public. People do not want the neighbours to know, for instance, that mommy and daddy may have, you know, let the uncle molest the kids and did nothing about it.

And should that kid's screams for help go ignored and that same kid takes his or her own life because of it -- do you really think mommy and daddy are going to answer honestly to a reporter who will destroy their image of being a good mommy and daddy?

No. They will get angry that someone cracked their code. They are going to be enraged to discover they are not the most cunning liars on the planet who can fool all seven-point-four billion of us.

I have dealt with people who pulled that stunt -- yelling at me, insulting my intelligence, you name it. It didn't make them in the right because every one had something they wanted hidden -- something the rest of the world needed to hear.

I once interviewed someone who kept things hidden during the interview, and as I tried to verify each fact I was told, something funny happened: things didn't add up. Every fact did not add up. I went back to check old yearbooks. I discovered a timeline I was presented did not add up. This was supposed to be a minor point in what I was researching -- a throwaway point.

When I found out that there was a deviation and managed to fill in the gap myself, I discovered why it was: because in that gap there was hidden information that put the story in a completely different light.

It was unflattering information, but it went a long way to explaining the story, and how a very bad event got to that level over a decade later.

There is zero humanity in keeping your eyes shut. 

Only people who want to corrupt the information stream with lies and get pats on the head go for that garbage.

When you do that job right, people think you are rude. They yell at you. They threaten to sue you, hurt you, and even kill you. I have gotten all of that when I worked as a journalist. I had executives call me stupid. I have people try to imply their morals trumped mine.

And you know what?

Every single person had something to hide.

On the other hand, I interviewed people in jail who broke the law. Those people got caught, discovered their lies were paper thin, and they outsmarted themselves.

They had lots of time to sit and think as they had to face the fact that they got broken by life.

Those interviews were always more honest.

For the exception of one, they all gave me a brutal assessment of reality. Every feint and ruse betrayed them, and the funny thing was, every fact they relayed to me was both embarrassing for them, but always checked out under the toughest scrutiny.

If a journalist had done their job earlier on, those same people would be throwing fits, playing the Moral Card, pulling every stunt in the book to hide the truth from being made public.

But those journalists could have gotten that emotional thrashing, printed the truth, and prevented many of those people from ending up in jail, separated from their children, losing their careers, and their freedoms.

And there would be people reading those facts who, for the first time in their sheltered lives, would be exposed to something that refuted their life theory that they could get away with very bad things, and give them an alternative.

Humanity is not shutting your eyes. People already do that.

If you are a true humanist, you expose the ugliest of truths by asking the cruelest of questions.

Because angels are demons to the wicked.

This is written by someone who obviously has no idea how this whole journalist thing is supposed to work.

To answer the question you posed:

As I turned to peers and professors for advice, I started to wonder: is journalism exploitative?

Yes, it has been exploitative. And do you know why?

1. It had people pretend to look for facts when they relied on press releases for information.

2. It deified and demonized people to suit their narrative ends without ever actually interviewing everyone they needed or asking the hard questions of those who had something to gain by spinning reality.

3. It let inconsistencies go without pressing people who yelled at them.

4. You had gullible rubes who fell for feints of interviewees who pulled the Morality Card instead of wonder why is this person getting uncomfortable with the questions.

And journalism -- the dead profession -- still thinks it can figure out without any expertise how to save itself?

Not a chance.

Not a chance when you have tripe like this:

We're told that the job of a journalist is to seek the truth. While that search is often glamorized as demanding tough questions of people in power, it also involves asking people with very little power — even over themselves — to reveal ugly, painful parts of their lives. 

Even people who have "very little power" can exploit that power and leverage it to shelter themselves from being forced to answer for their unethical ways. Do not kid yourself.

It is these kinds of cowardices that destroyed journalism. It is not about getting accolades and applause. People prefer comforting lies that will destroy them over the disturbing truths that will compel them to admit wrongdoing, force active thinking, and then make big and small changes to improve the situation.

It is an Age of Propaganda where people are trying to find hacks and easy outs, but still expect to build a solid foundation.

But this is why journalism cannot resurrect itself: it has no idea how badly they messed up. It has no clue what went wrong, and then listen to those who have no expertise or research tell them what they want to hear.

It is a vile mindset that got corrupted by the rot of its own death.

Journalism has no idea what it is doing and how it could have corrected itself. None. It doesn't look for critical voices because as the Spec column cheerily suggests, we should all not ask tough questions and shut our eyes to reality.

No expertise. No research. Just beg for money and make no changes as you spew garbage, and then wonder why your fortunes stink...