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

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The Job of a Reporter isn't Truth...it's Revenue

[cap­tion id=“attachment_108584” align=“aligncenter” width=“220”] Lars Mikkel­son who played Charles Augus­tus Mag­nussen in Sherlock[/caption]

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.

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.