David Roberts at Grist, riffing on This American Life’s Ira Glass, nails it on the head:
“…news reporting is declining in part because of just this phenomenon: reporters do not react like human beings. The audience doesn’t see or hear themselves in most news reporting. When covering something amazing, reporters are not allowed express awe. When covering something unexpected, they’re not allowed to express surprise. And when faced with conservatives celebrating and reinforcing one another’s ignorance, they’re not allowed to show gall or outrage. Or mock.
People reading these stories get “the facts,” but facts without context or affect are inert. There are no cues about what the facts mean. The strongest cue is the presence of the story itself, which says, “These are legitimate participants in our political dialogue, with something to say worth repeating.”
That’s exactly how I feel. This is not something new, by the way, but a modus operandi that has been drilled into journalism students and cub reporters for decades. It simply doesn’t work. There are days I feel betrayed by the professors who taught me the fundamentals and the editors who helped me hone my skills. But it’s not really their fault. They were only passing on what was taught to them.
Perhaps this collapse of mainstream media we are seeing will result in something new in the way of a journalistic ethos: one that respects accuracy and evidence-based reportage, but isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.