It’s easy to take the piss out of journalists, and to blame the media for everything.
Journalists often over-estimate how much they know, and exaggerate their own importance.
But they’re not alone in having those shortcomings.
Where you sit is where you stand.
And people in different sectors of our complex democracy are quick to identify and lampoon the failings of everyone else.
Journalists ridicule academics for being long-winded (and dull), academics ridicule the superficialities of journalistic analysis.
Public servants sometimes think everyone in business is a spiv of one sort or another, while in the private sector bureaucrats are seen as rule-loving tossers.
These warring groups are not always wide of the mark in their depictions of each other.
More recently, we have had another cleavage thrust upon us: bloggers versus journalists.
I was cheered by Stilgherrian’s first few paragraphs in his paper to the media 140 conference. And this sentence, in particular:
This is why I think the whole bloggers versus journalists debate was and still is so incredibly stupid.
But what follows, unfortunately, is a jaunty run through the whole ‘social media good, journalism bad’ story that has long since become a cliche.
A few more pars into this tour through the well-worn world of blogger resentment, we get this stunner of a summation:
Up the other end we’ve got big institutions like the Church, Science and The Media constructing narratives they call, respectively, Belief, Knowledge and News. All of them, when threatened, refer to their narratives as “The Truth”.
Now I know Stig is trying to be entertaining and provocative so a certain amount of latitude is warranted.
But this sort of glibness doesn’t do anyone any good.
On the other hand, reading further I realised that this ‘critique of western civilisation in a nutshell’ really is the key to understanding the perspective of Stig and countless other social media romantics.
Folks, there is not such thing as truth. That was all a pre-digital idea. Now utterly redundant.
Once you get over silly obsessions like trying to work out what the truth is then you are free in Stig’s grand vision for our future to convey gossip along ant-like trails.
I’m not making this up.
At the end, in his paper’s coup de grace against the pretensions of journalists, Stig draws on a recent weather event to portray the redundancy of journalism:
Like ants mapping out food trails, people did this by passing signals to each other — interesting photos and factoids and emotional responses — without central control. And because they knew the people they passed them to, these messages had plenty of personal resonance.
When the industrial media factories creaked into action, maybe only minutes or an hour later, what were they adding to that process? Were they just packaging that collective narrative for the folks who aren’t yet connected to the live global hive mind?
Well there you go. No need for investigation, fact-checking, objective standards of accuracy, background, context. Not to mention a trained editorial hand to bring you the best writing and pictures.
I think we need more journalists.
I think more bloggers (and god forbid twitterers) should be embracing the skills of journalism.
I vote for excellence.
I don’t want the ‘global mind hive’.
It sounds ugly and dystopian to me.