There is a bit of contention that is coming up in the world of journalism about which sources are good to use and which are not good and professional. With the age of more and more information and people being on the internet more and more, society is starting to change in the way that it views things and how it interacts with the rest of the world. But the world of journalism is having a hard time with this one. They are having a hard time because, like so many elements in journalism, changing with the times isn’t easy.
Journalism has been kind of an intellectual game for some time. It is a fairly recent development, historically speaking, when there was the pathetic hack-journalism that is entertainment news. Whenever an episode of TMZ comes on, the world gets dumber by at least two IQ points. And the world of journalism has enough of a problem with the endless series of attacks that it falls under from the conservative elements stating that if a newspaper or TV news station doesn’t have a conservative spin on news, it is part of the “liberal media.”
Now, true objectivity in journalism is impossible. Anybody who says otherwise is a little naive. Personal bias exists everywhere. Everything that people do is because of a bias to do it, or to not do it. True objectivity is a myth because nobody is able to completely detach themselves form their own existence when they are writing. It isn’t possible. So the myth of true objective journalism is part of a belief system that needs to change.
But back to the concept of intellectual journalism, for a long time, sources were only those who had a lot of exposure and were clearly experts on a national level. Look at MSNBC. They have all their contributors being big-time people in the field in which they are commenting. Never mind that they are also being paid to be on these shows, which kind of takes the objectivity argument away. But now things are changing. Things are changing because the internet is providing a way for those who are knowledgeable in different fields but don’t get a great deal of academic explosure to get the exposure they are looking for.
The greatest example of this is YouTube. If you can get past all the videos of babies sliding across the floor and people being idiots with skateboards and stuff like that, then there is a plethora of knowledge out there for the taking. YouTube is becoming a very quiet hub for some of the social and academic commentators to be able to get their opinions out. And a great deal of these are able to drawn a pretty decent following. But in the world of journalism, citing these people is still problematic. And the reason is simple – it is not a respected outlet for information.
YouTube has garnered the reputation of being full of idiots and people who want to sound smart, and there is no denying that there are a lot of misinformed people on YouTube. But then you get the diamonds in the rough who are able to back up what they are saying, cite sources, and even be able to discuss at length the issue that they feel strongly about. So for the journalist community to dismiss this off-hand seems rather conservative, in their own way (the definition of conservatism is being against change, for the record, which is why it was used here). They are not wanting to look at a new paradigm due to the image that it has been given by society.
There is a greater lesson that can be learned from things like this – that change doesn’t come easy. It is never easy for a group of people or even for a certain person, to change their entire way of thinking. It is pretty difficult, and history has shown that it doesn’t come easy. As the critic on the movie Ratatouille said,
The world is often unkind to new talent.”
And this is a part of American culture that people need to start accepting more of, because it is difficult to get out of one’s comfort zone. Of course, one should fact-check what they are told, but when a source has a great quote, when it is able to make a very good point, where it comes from shouldn’t matter, if it is factually correct, and is able to be on topic with what the person is saying, so long as the fact are correct.
For a columnist like myself, YouTube is a very unique place to get a good quote from, because it has become an area with an open market on political commentary, along with social commentary of all kinds. All it takes is one being able to look through all the crap, and find those who are respectable. Easy, no, but worth it, I think so. The winds of change are blowing, and journalists have to be willing to keep up.