Wednesday, December 29, 2004


I have a Master's degree in Architecture, and Architecture is my chosen profession (note: I do not mention this to demostrate what my educational credentials ARE, but more importantly what they ARE NOT). Most architects can't even spell correctly, let alone write well. While I was at school, however, I took it upon myself to become a journalist. Not because I studied the subject, but because I had something to say and thought I was pretty good at saying it. I started writing in the Arts section for the university newspaper in my senior year.

It wasn't that hard, really. The biggest hurdle was communicating esoteric ideas in a way that the average Liberal Arts major could understand. Granted, it wasn't the highly-charged newsroom of the New York Times (yikes!) or the Daily Planet, but there were deadlines and subject matter and finding the best way to say something. From that experience, I have to believe that being a full-time journalist doesn't take that much brainpower.

I had friends who were Communications majors, planning on becoming journalists after graduating. I met most of them in classes like Public Speaking. I met a lot of the guys on the basketball team in those classes, too. Strike two for brainpower in journalism.

It seems to me that there must be a segment in the journalism/communications curriculum about impartiality, which I will subclassify under Journalistic Ethics. Perhaps they don't teach that anymore. Well, maybe they DO teach it, but differently than they did before the 1960's. The '60's combined the genesis of institutional distrust by an entire generation with the biggest institution, the U.S. government, engaging in military action of questionable virtue, strategy and tactics. The generation that grew up hating, and that spent their adulthood simultaneously bloating and dismantling the credibility of, that biggest institution has become what they most hate: a gigantic corrupt institution - Mainstream Commercial News Media.

In their quest to change the world, younger journalists pushed aside the generation of REPORTERS OF FACT in favor of the generation of TRUTHTELLERS. Problem is, there are as many different definitions of Truth as there are people in the world. Storytelling and Opinion have replaced Conciseness and Fact.

From my experiences as a writer, I know how difficult it is to choose words in such a way that they will be unbiased. Journalists don't have to simply be factual anymore. They have to tell a good story in order to sell newspapers and TV advertising time. As a result, factual accuracy lessens in importance while emotional impact receives the greatest focus. Combine that with the aforementioned idea of Fact Reporter to Truthteller, and you get a corrosive concoction that is sure to erode the foundations of Democracy.

It also seems to me that we have, as a society, arrived at the point where we recognize that all of our communications are biased by a person's viewpoint of Truth. Bloggers and non-leftist journalists certainly aren't afraid of admitting that they have a point of view. Leftist MSM journalists, however, think that they are carrying on the noble tradition of reporting facts, when in fact (no pun intended) they are telling stories through the filters of their own viewpoints.

To those who are studying journalism, and the current journalists, wherever you may be, I implore you: REDISCOVER THE SCIENCE OF REPORTING FACTS, not just the art of verbal communication. Choose your words carefully. Reserve your opinions for the Opinion page. We bloggers know what we're doing. At the end of the cultural Unraveling, we're destroying your Great Institution. We're excercising our Freedom of Speech. The difference, though, is that we know the difference between Truth and Fact.

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