It is not hard to imagine why journalism collapsed, but it is not as if every in the profession is oblivious to what needs to be done. The problem is the vast majority are bringing the profession down.
I always said WikiLeaks is the ideal journalism should have been: true outsiders. Julian Assange has lost much of his focus lately, though I cannot say I blame him. He gave traditional media too much credit trying to plead his case that WikiLeaks and legacy media have the same goals. They do not.
WikiLeaks tried to awaken the population so that they would know what is really happening. Journalists at the Post and the New York Times want to mug for America as some action heroes of democracy as they attend red carpet affairs. Seriously, I respect Assange and root for him, but he is proof of what happens to you when you don't get out enough.
But of the few people in legacy media, most have no idea of what they should have been doing, though Newstalk 1010's Jerry Agar had some inkling recently doing a multi-day story on the impact of miscarriages -- starting with the personal and then branching out to the medical and psychological over the course of days. It wasn't a narrative. It wasn't sensationalism or social engineering. It wasn't bombast or fear-mongering. And it never tried to weave in Donald Trump into it in any way. But Agar is not a journalist by trade -- and that's disconcerting that the personality sees something the news producers do not.
In a world with a glut of opinion, people are getting opinion fatigue because opinion doesn't solve problems.
But journalism ran away from facts a long time ago. WikiLeaks understood facts and they gave the world facts.
But the world was too in love with spewing opinions that they ignored them, and worse, villainized them because those facts clashed with their opinions.
Journalism long ago realized spewing opinion was cheaper than gathering facts, and now that they lost their monopoly on broadcasting it, they are trying to move back a more credible model, but they no longer have a pulse on what that even means.
We can take the Toronto Star as an example. They have a public editor acting more as an apologist and justifier, explaining to the little people why journalists interview grieving families for stories because you have the perpetually offended trying to one-up each other to be the Queen and King of Morality on Twitter and whining that exposing the world to the ugly reality is a bad thing, and that privacy is necessary. Besides, what if they are made accountable and forced to change their routine, proving them wrong? What will the jealous siblings say about them on the Facebook?
No, there are people who never want to be inconvenienced by other people's troubles and they do not want to see bad news because then someone may realize their lives are dysfunctional and they do not live in paradise.
Why do you need a public editor for that? People videotape all sorts of tragic and embarrassing things that go viral -- and millions of people watch it. Those same snowflakes hold up traffic to gawk at car accidents on the highway. It's a sham.
Besides, if families do not want to talk to reporters, they don't. Journalists can't issue subpoenas.
But the Star thinks it is being transparent when it isn't.
It tries to put that façade of seriousness. Even when it tells the Great Unwashed how their reporters get government documents to copy verbatim, assuming that people don't do the same thing in their own jobs or personal lives.
I don't see the Star actually questioning the veracity of those papers or whether or not what is on them is accurate and valid.
Journalism should have been more than just appealing to authority.
But it wasn't because facts are not important when you are spewing opinion, propaganda, and narrative.
True journalistic transparency takes a lot more than that -- when I ran Chaser News, I was transparent -- not just with how I gathered facts -- but how I analyzed and verified them.
As well as my reactions to things I came across -- such as my anger during a Take Back the Night rally that had trained professionals in mental health and social services completely ignore a woman having a panic attack as she was visibly distressed. It was not part of my original story about trying to find a missing woman, but the episode did hint that people fall through the cracks because we often become numb to our surroundings even as our jobs dictate we must be vigilant.
But vigilance has become something people look down on these days: It's All Good! Perfect! and No worries and three very worrisome attitudes we have accepted as being cool and acceptable.
No, it's not all good. No, it's not perfect. Yes, there are worries.
That's why we have to always work hard to improve things, even if it means being distressed and questioning ourselves, our choices, and our methods.
Had journalists been transparent, they would have seen where they were going wrong. Instead, they chose that nonchalant attitude to pretend they were doing everything perfectly.
And then came their destruction.
An alternative to journalism must take care that the attitude is never a flippant one that deadens the senses and encourages lethargy and complacency. Life is a struggle and a never-ending riddle -- and the alternative must be a realistic and true reflection of our own essences to connect and thrive in the world...