While I write a blog I can make no claim to being a journalist. I can, however, be critical of professional journalist for what the choose to be news and for their motivations. In this century much that claims to be journalism misses the mark for one important reason, It fails meeting a standard set by Walter Lippmann in the late 1800s, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.”
While many excel at shaming there is too often little truth that goes into defining who the devil is or in discerning what is true. I recently heard a broadcast journalist say the cable news channels drive the news today and they are less interested in telling the truth than in building an audience. Democracy relies on an informed citizenry and in the days of Edward R. Morrow it was a journalist’s job keep the voter informed by filtering out that which was merely sensational from that which was necessary to be informed. In today’s 24/7 world of cable news the emphasis is on reporting the sensational in order to build the audience. Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, has proudly made clear that Fox is not in the news business, it’s in the ratings business.
While Fox News is not alone, it is the master of choosing the devil and then making up whatever truth is needed to shame.