Protecting You From Facts

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In a news article that may have been written in 1998, the Los Angeles Times frets about lower journalistic standards on the Internet, whines about ?competitive pressure,? then congratulates its own gatekeepers for failing to report arguably salient details about the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case.

[T]he paper has decided not to publish facts that are not relevant to the alleged assault, such as the behavior of the accuser. [?] The Times has carried no stories attempting to profile the accuser's mood or behavior apart from describing the evening of June 30, when she says Bryant forced her to have sex in his hotel room [?]

"Newspapers should be more conservative than they were 10 years ago," [Managing Editor Dean] Baquet said. "The Internet, the Matt Drudges, Web sites ? people can't tell the difference any more between rumor and fact."

NEXT: Life Under Constant Surveillance

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  1. I’m am less concerned about the standards of weblogs than I am about the nearly universal evaporation of actual reportage in the big-J journalism profession. Take a look at your local paper: how much of it reads like barely reworded corporate and government press releases?

    Some of us are old enough to notice…

  2. Hey if you demand less factual information from your reporters then they’re less likely to make things up, right?

  3. Listen, blowing up pickup truck gas tanks with rocket motors and uncovering the use of nerve agents by the CIA on US troops in Vietnam is the job of professional journalists. You just sit there like mewling kittens waiting for the mainstream news teat and say thank you very much.

  4. Scott Harris – I agree. Big media is so full of spin that I would hesitate to call it “news” any longer. More like “public relations” for government and corporations. And frankly, I can’t tell the difference between major network newscasts anymore, nor can I tell the difference between any two major cities’ newspapers, at least in terms of coverage of national and international stories. Ergo, the demand for blogs such as Reason, as well as other online means of grassroots journalism and reporting.

  5. If the internet forces people to see news stories with a critical eye, to treat every article as suspect, to not believe something is a fact until they’ve verified it, then I’d say that’s progress. The internet does, after all, give us a huge selection of information sources.

  6. tm – and that’s the greatest value of the Internet, in my mind – it facilitates the closest thing mankind has ever had to a “free market” for information and ideas.

  7. I feel safer already.

  8. The major news media’s sanctimonious refusal to name Kobe’s accuser lead to one of her classmates being falsely identified, with her name, picture, and other personal info posted on the internet. Pfeh on their PC “standards.”

  9. I’m less bothered that the mainstream press act as gatekeepers in defining what’s “relevant” information in the Bryant case, than the fact that such celebrity infotainment is considered “news” in the first place. It’s the mainstream press’s role as gatekeepers over information on the exercise of government and corporate power (assuming, in the present corporatist economy, that the two are distinguishable) that should be of concern.

    As Scott points out, investigative journalism is just about dead in the mainstream press, and has been largely replaced with the statements of government and corporate PR flacks. The only place you can get a really critical examination of our overlords’ actions is in the non-mainstream press of both left and right.

    For example, during the coup against Chavez in Venezuela last year, most of the news coming out of Caracas was filtered through the AP, which adhered pretty closely to the official Venezuelan oil industry/U.S. government line. The reports from sources like indymedia turned out to be a lot closer to the truth. For example, Chavez did not “resign,” as the AP reported, but was held incommunicado. In regard to other points of contention, like whether “government” violence was actually carried out by anti-Chavez provocateurs, the facts are in dispute. But the AP uncritically reported one version of events, without even admitting that there WAS a matter of fact at issue.

    Too many wire service foreign correspondents write their stories in their hotel rooms, either from official government handouts or U.S. embassy handouts.

  10. While one can never go wrong bashing Evil Big Media on the Internet, I’m curious, Matt — just what “arguably salient details” do you think the LAT and others should be providing?

  11. How anyone can consider the dissemination of information as a bad thing is beyond me. Worse still, that this opinion is held by an alleged news organization. God bless the web, and it’s wildly divergent slants, causes, etc. Let the people form their own opinions based on their own investigation of the “facts”. How I love H&R.

  12. Screw ’em. I haven’t bought a paper in a year except to use as package stuffing, and I can’t see any reason to change with everything I can find online.

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