Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Unprofessional Journalism: The Case of Yale University

For several years now, journalists have been whining all over the place that their profession has been dying out. Bad, mean and stupid readers started turning away from newspapers, magazines, and television news broadcasts. Now, more and more readers preferred the Internet to be their main source of the news. There has been no analysis, however, of why people don't trust the traditional media to provide them with news. Journalists are in no hurry to look at themselves as the main source of the public's disappointment with the traditional sources of information.

I was born in 1976, so maybe my vision of what news reporting used to be like in the XIX and the first half of the XX century is based on myths I encountered in books and movies. I always thought that the reporter's main job was ... well, to report. I though that a reporter is a person who would go anywhere and do anything for the sake of a good story.

Today, this is absolutely not the case. Journalists do not report, they do not hunt around for shocking facts and interesting discoveries. Why waste your time and energy doing that when you can limit your job description to sitting at home in a comfortable arm-chair and producing pieces filled with "opinions"? Sometimes, to bolster your opinions you can dig out some quasi-scientific study and manipulate it to fit your "opinion" du jour.

The atrocious murder of graduate student Annie Le of Yale University and the way it is being covered in the press has demonstrated once again just how much the traditional news media have degenerated. Reporters have no interest in actually going to Yale, talking to the students and the employees. Doing that could uncover things that the administration might not welcome. Why would journalists want to go against the enormous, rich and powerful Yale corporation? Uncovering corporate scandal is not what today's reporters want to do. It is so much easier to replicate the Yale administration press releases. And I'm sure it pays a lot better.

Had any of the reporters that keep publishing lies about the "safe" and "crime-free" New Haven actually talked to people who live, study and work in the shadow of Yale corporation, they might have discovered how much crime (both corporate and street crime) takes place on Yale campus. They might have found out that the administration often misleads the students' parents because it needs their money. They might have brought to light the shameful treatment of the Yale grad students, junior faculty, and lectors by the corporation. They might have finally figured out that providing education and doing research comes extremely low (if at all, I sometimes think) in the corporation's list of priorities.

But real reporting is dead. All we have left is a bunch of sycophants who have no interest in looking for the truth and who have the gall to call themselves journalists.

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