Journalism's need to meddle and make decrees hints that its primary motivation is not to inform, but to engage in social engineering. People have to think in a certain way, and that's that. It was tolerated when they held all of the cards, but when social media took off -- and took off with a roar -- the landscape changed, and now the profession is trying to engage in social engineering yet again by getting a democratically elected president impeached, shutting down social media entirely, forcing the population to read and watch their propaganda, and then do whatever the profession dictates them to do.
Sadly, that is what we are seeing right now, and a couple of articles bring insight into this peculiarity in two very different ways.
The first must-read article is entitled "Let's have a serious discussion about trust, focus, and objectivity," from the Danish Baekdal Media which describes its "overall purpose is to help media companies change their future through analysis and guidance."
But even with focus groups, consultants, and an army of other paid minders and nannies, the profession still collapsed.
This is truly a remarkable phenomenon.
Think about the number of universities that have communications, media, and journalism departments. Think about the number of consultants, and media-based organizations. Think of the number of books, journal articles, symposiums, and experts out there whose only purpose is to prop up journalism. Think of the billions of dollars spent on keeping journalism on life support.
And nothing. Nothing stopped the collapse of journalism. Not a single group or individual stopped the destruction of the profession.
There are a multitude of reasons: the rigs that supported journalism allowed defective mindsets to be reinforced and taken for granted. Once social media arrived, it removed the rigs, and journalism didn't see it happen. They went on as before, assuming what they were doing was perfectly great, but as the sky didn't fall on them, they failed to see that the ground beneath them was eroding.
They were sinking, and didn't realize why.
It was a profession that always looked down on critics. People who voted for Trump weren't just people who had different ideas, wants, needs, and beliefs -- they were evil and stupid yokels who were duped by Facebook and Russia.
The paranoia became pathological and extremist.
The entire mainstream media has been relentlessly going after President Trump, and his approval ratings keep climbing. They are turning this man into a legend. He can go up against the entire media Establishment, and come out the victor using Twitter.
This is the reason journalists turned on social media. How dare they give people a chance to speak without the media's meddling and imposting of narrative filters?
The Baekdal article doesn't get the problem in places, and completely does in others.
Let me first go with the part the article misses:
We provide the public with something that the public cannot provide for itself. We protect the public from those in power who aren't living up to their responsibilities, and we keep everything in check.
Social engineering is not the news media's job, and contrary to the assertion that journalists give people information they cannot find elsewhere, the notion is ludicrous: journalists crib from press releases. They get their information from televised press conferences, which are nothing more than canned events. They scour databases which can also be accessed by the public, and often do so more often and more vigorously than reporters do.
However, the article is not a write-off by any stretch; in fact, it picks up brilliantly in the second half with a very good warning to journalists that I have edited:
[T]his is where the importance of objective journalism comes into play...you cannot use your writing to lobby against a competitor...to drive a business agenda of your own.
So what is the media doing? Well, over the past week, we have seen some of the worst media lobbyism ever.
Some of the misuses listed (that I have also recounted elsewhere):
- Google earns billions and attracts nazis and pedophiles.
- Facebook knew their data could be sold and made no secret of it.
- Here is all the data Facebook and Google have about you ...where we 'forget' to distinguish between actual privacy-related data and data that people have willingly uploaded (like when someone posts a picture).
- Here is a step-by-step guide to deleting your Facebook account
- These are the big advertisers who still advertise on Facebook...
It issues a warning that will fall on deaf ears:
What we are seeing here is not journalism.
Just the point that so many newspapers have been calling for people to 'delete their Facebook accounts' illustrate a total breakdown of any sense of journalistic objectivity. This is not about journalism anymore. This is 100% pure 'media war' between news media losing their market share on one side, and the tech companies on the other.
There is no journalistic objectivity anymore. This is a war where journalists are misusing a platform to fight their battles. The article labels it an "abuse of power."
There is another wise warning journalists will miss as well:
Why am I saying that this is causing more damage to the media industry than it is to Facebook or Google?
The answer is simple. It's because people aren't stupid.
People can very clearly see that the way this story is being reported is so filled with animosity that it isn't real journalism.
The problem is that journalists see themselves as worldlier than their audiences; and so they have the right to make decrees to the little people who they see as helpless rubes who need some serious social engineering to survive.
If journalists were about finding facts and sharing those facts so people can do what they need to do with them, we would not be seeing what we are seeing now, and I wouldn't be writing about it.
The second is a report from UK's Ethical Journalism Network (EJN). While there are several authors covering different topics, I will focus on the US media's continued whining about their inability to tell people not to vote for Donald Trump.
The incessant teeth-gnashing in this diatribe is devoid of any facts. It is all melodramatic and skewed narrative:
[W]hat is the future of ethical journalism in an age when it appears that the public around the world are falling out with facts, humanity and accountable truth-telling?
The assumption that journalism is about social engineering is more than apparent. The narrative is presented in such a way that a reader is all but forced to believe journalists had to choose sides and save America from itself:
Ethical and factual considerations aside, few in the US media saw these slurs as a winning script for a presidential race. On the contrary, they were widely considered so crudely and self-evidently objectionable as to be almost automatically disqualifying.
Trump’s victory marked the first time a US presidential candidate was elected despite the editorial-page opposition of almost every major state and national newspaper, including several which had always endorsed Republican nominees.
This is the usual justification for any sort of social engineering: we must save the little people from themselves. This is the Sci-Fi Evil Alien Argument: anyone who doesn't agree with you all have to be evil enemies who all think, act, and dress alike. It is a form of demonization, and the gambit is highly deceptive and propagandistic, which is ironic for a publication that proclaims it is about journalism ethics.
The baseline assumption is that all Americans would all vote for Hillary Clinton because that was the only choice. Its a fascist assumption, and it is a troubling one for any journalist to make.
It is an argument rife with the confirmation bias: we only look at evidence that confirms our theory, not the evidence that refutes it. In journalism, they do not proffer theories as much as narratives.
So this narrative assumes every single person who voted for the Republican candidate is a Nazi sympathizer or a gullible moron, which is laughable and incorrect. There were people who voted Republican before, and will continue to vote Republican. There are people whose needs were not met by Clinton's vision, and they rejected her by voting for Trump. Were there extremists voting for Trump? Yes, but there were extremist with terrorist sympathies who voted for Democrats. If I chose to present a skewed picture of Clinton, I could very easily do it because everyone has a right to vote, and it takes no effort to find extremists on the other side of the spectrum who supported her and then just focus on them as if no normal person voted for her, which would also be a bald-face lie. You will have people who have delusions support your candidate as well as people who are highly intelligent and sane. Considering Trump garnered millions of votes, accusing a sizeable percentage of people of being white supremacists is ridiculous.
But Trump decided to do something he didn't do before: tell off the press instead of court them, and use social media to win a campaign.
The fact that he won proved that journalism was a dead profession.
That is the real reason the press is going after social media: they cannot control the message or flow of information. They cannot partake in their social engineering. They cannot meddle in everyone's lives, telling people what to think and what to do.
They have proven themselves to be unreliable and untrustworthy.
That is the reason we need an alternative to journalism -- and one that does not rely on narrative and social engineering. Find facts. Test facts. Disseminate facts. Experiment and research about the structure and content of facts. Create a science of facts.
Have a profession focussed on that -- not being tyrants and control freaks.
We need a better method of finding information. An alternative to journalism must have respect for those who they are informing, and not see them as drooling toddlers in soggy underpants who have no idea how to think.
It is a disgrace that journalism destroyed itself with hubris, but it doesn't mean the next alternative has to follow in those same arrogant and presumptuous footsteps.