Thursday, May 21, 2009

Knocks on the Press

Many media critics condemn what they see as excessive negativism in the news. An additional knock is a perceived tendency on the part of many in the media to overvalue their importance in events and society. Indeed, some feel the media may have too much power.

Time writes of "a tendency among young reporters to believe the worst, to see a potential Watergate, hence their fame and fortune, in almost every story. Says editor Rosann Doran of the Broomfield (Colo). Enterprise (circ. 18,200): 'Every kid I get out of journalism school wants to have some major expose under his byline. Sometimes they cannot accept the fact that something is not crooked.' "

Editor Robert Maynard of the Oakland Tribune comments, "We are too hungry for blood-it sometimes seems to readers that we will not do the story unless we can do someone in."

Indeed, the overall effect of the constant barrage of negativity is "Disheartening. Sapping of energy. Destructive of hopes" (Abigail McCarthy, Commonweal). "Journalism often misses the truth by unconsciously eroding one's sympathy with life," according to Roger Rosenblatt, writing in Time.

Time concluded: "Reporters have sometimes lost sight of the fundamental truth that their job is to provide a service to the community rather than to seek the glamour and glory that now often seem to draw people into the craft."

Editor Michael J. O'Neill summed it up by saying: "In the final analysis, what we need most of all in our profession is a generous spirit, infused with human warmth, as ready to see good as to suspect wrong, to find hope as well as cynicism, to have a clear but uncrabbed view of the world. We need to seek conciliation, not just conflict- consensus, not just disagreement - so that society has a chance to solve its problems, so that we... can find again... common trust and unity."

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