Fake News, Native Ads, and Alternative Facts
Journalism is about the truth, not clients or Facebook likes.
My journalism advisor in college was a crusty seasoned newspaper guy who had retired to academia. Often, when reviewing classwork, he would look over his reading glasses at me, intimidating as hell, and say something like, "Journalism is about the truth, Palumbo. Not humor, not entertainment, just the plain facts in a logical and informative manner. That’s it. So re-write the lede with that in mind — or else.”
I can only imagine having that same discussion in today’s media world, where what’s real in journalism is as highly sought as the Loch Ness Monster. Where advertising and content share a foggy line of demarcation in many channels of information delivery. A world where if you didn’t like the headline or posturing, you simply accuse the fourth estate of lying and create your own. Brave new world, my friends.
It is a world where self-appointed citizen journalists seek out corruption, injustice, and scandal with the veracity of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
One has to wonder (and this is meant as a nonpartisan observation) if the animosity toward the press expressed by the leader of the free world might have a ripple effect for years to come on journalism school enrollment — positive or negative. It certainly has sparked a recovery of sorts for the Times, the Post, and many more.
I have frequently spoken to aspiring journalist and PR types as well about the media in this age of convergence. First and foremost, on both sides of the equation, always tell the truth. Don’t sensationalize for a client or for Facebook likes. Don’t become susceptible to provocative click bait headlines.
City and regional magazines should be held accountable to the same standard — no matter how alluring the siren’s call of financial success can sound at times — because without integrity we have nothing.
It is appropriate that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced its closure this year. It appears the big top has a new location, and the show is about to begin.