Here are a few actual examples of recent news pieces:
“Millions face famine in Niger.”
“Dieticians recommend more whole grains.”
“Going back to work not as fun as going on vacation.”
“Is a college education worth it? College professors say yes.”
“College students prefer professors who are easy graders and don't expect a lot of them.”
Of course, there’s also the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation with gems such as the in-depth analysis of what Lindsay Lohan wore when she surrendered herself for her jail term.
(And it wasn’t just a story printed online, it was a lengthy anchor-correspondent chat about everything Lindsay. The only thing missing in that piece was a quote from Perez Hilton. Thankfully, TMZ was referenced.)
This is not to disregard the ongoing famine and hardships faced by those in Africa – it is however to disregard the ongoing hardships of “fame” faced by Lohan.
It is the machine.
And the machine is now the message.
As a freelance journalist, I try to bring the message back to the medium, by breaking away from this machine. Still, I am faced with another problem. Though I am a journalist, I am but a “blogger.”
To be clear, not all bloggers consider themselves journalists.
But, I went to school for journalism. I have two higher education degrees. I’ve worked in the mainstream media as a writer, reporter, and producer.
I didn’t call myself an offline journalist then, so why would I call myself an online journalist now? I am a journalist.
Recently, a broadcaster on a popular Toronto sports radio show discredited “bloggers.” He claimed they use mainstream media as their information-feeder, simply regurgitating that which the traditional media says.
And I suppose when mainstream media gets its news from the Associated Press or Canadian Press, those sources are considered first accounts?
There are indeed journalists who regurgitate information, but they are not limited to bloggers.
Anyone watch the six o’clock news? Two different networks – even from two different countries – often run pretty much the same newscast.
What about media conglomerates who feed information from one of their own outlets to another? Isn’t that the same thing?
But, in an effort to compete, new school and old school media outlets now must strive to be the first to post a story.
The result? “Truth” is often defined as - and subjugated to - that which is exposed first.
Over time this should change, as we come to understand sources that are not fully credible. Inevitably, in the push to be first there will be many mistakes made, and some media will choose accuracy over speed.
But, there is still danger in the most trusted names, as their news is accepted as gospel and often not subjected to further verification.
(Remember in 2000, when the four major American news networks, along with CNN and the AP, first called Florida for Gore, then retracted the projection, and then called Florida for Bush, before finally retracting that projection as well. Possibly altering history... but no biggie.)
Marshall McLuhan thought the modern media should be an extension of human senses, and expand society’s ability to view the world in ways that could not be achieved without the media.
That is my goal with Always Write.
My stories are free and extremely accessible.
Each a key point in democracy. Each a key function of freedom of speech. Both, fundamentals of journalism.
And most important, I aim to deliver each piece with a disruptive perspective laced with journalistic integrity (and sometimes even self-deprecating humour - or attempts at humour, as it were).
I don’t regurgitate what CBC, CNN, or The Toronto Star say. I clean up what they regurgitate.
We all know we need to eat our whole grains.
We all know we prefer vacations to work.
And we all know there is famine in Africa that needs to end.
Above all, none of us care about Lindsay Lohan, but we can agree she does make for a useless distraction from the things that we should care about.