Sunday, February 20, 2005

Journalism payola scandal just gets worse and worse

From the New York Times: A reminder that six 'journalists' have been revealed now as accepting money from the Bush administration, in return for writing about specific subjects from a conservative standpoint, and presenting it to the public as objective news. Jeez, is it any wonder that public disgust for the journalism industry is at an all-time high? Let's not forget, as recently as a hundred years ago the industry wasn't taken seriously by anyone - it was only by adopting a rigid ethical code (like writing stories from an objective standpoint, confirming stories through three unrelated sources, etc), and then sticking by that code for decades, that journalism was able to pull itself out of its 'yellow' years and finally become something that millions of people could reliably count on to be the "objective truth." Increased violations of this ethical code, like what we've been seeing recently, could easily turn journalism back into what it was in the 1800s - that is, something read mostly for entertainment purposes, and certainly not something you would ever count on to be an objective, reliable account of a situation. It'll be interesting, I think, to see how the journalism industry responds to these recent crises, and whether they'll actually manage to salvage the good reputation it took them nearly a century to create in the first place.