The Job of a Reporter isn’t Truth…it’s Revenue

Lars Mikkelson who played Charles Augustus Magnussen in Sherlock

John Watson: But if you just know it, then you don’t have proof.
Charles Augustus Magnussen: Proof? What would I need proof for? I’m in news, you moron. I don’t have to prove it – I just have to print it.

Sherlock: His Last Vow 2014

Curly: Hey, what’s this stuff for anyway?
Larry: Why it’s a cleaner, you chump.
Curly: I know. It’s auto polish.
Moe: You boys really want to know what it’s for?
Larry & Curley: Yeah!
Moe: It’s for sale. Now get busy selling it.

The Three Stooges Dizzy Doctors 1937

Something stuck me when I was reading this piece at the Volokh Conspiracy about a study on bias in what is newsworthy. (emphasis mine) via instapundit

How did it turn out? You can guess, can’t you? For all six issues, subjects rated stories as possessing greater intrinsic newsworthiness when they offered ammunition for “their side” of a controversy.

The article is entitled “Perceptions of Newsworthiness Are Contaminated by a Political Usefulness Bias,” and it was published a week or two ago in Royal Society Open Science.

Is the point obvious? Evidently not to everybody. When it is pointed out that news staffs at newspapers across the country tend to be monolithically left of center, the response is often that this is not a problem, since the job of a news reporter is simply to report the truth, and truth is just truth. Well, that’s not quite true … news reporters have to decide what stories are newsworthy (and what facts within stories are newsworthy).

Now I have written a lot about what is newsworthy in the past about things that are “newsworthy”, here is how Merriam Webster defines it: (again emphasis mine)

Definition of newsworthy

interesting enough to the general public to warrant reporting

That’s the dirty little secret. It’s not reporters who decide what it newsworthy, it’s not anchors or pundits on CNN or CBS that decide what is newsworthy, it’s not never newspaper editors that decide what is newsworthy, it’s the general public that decides that a piece of news or information is interesting enough that it’s worth paying for with their time and their money or both.

It is the editor and/or producers job to sport such stories as they are developing and/or to recognize such stories brought to them by their reporters or freelancers and arrange coverage in on their platform either print, video or web and if said story generates the eyeballs that produce the revenues that pays the bills to stick with it or if it doesn’t to drop or ignore it.

The bottom line job of a reporter, to generate revenue, the only value of truth in that endeavor is to generate credibility for the platform and or to protect said platform from legal actions that might cost revenue.

That’s the reality and it high time that people understand it.