Are Journalists Lazy?

That seems to be the opinion of one of my sometime readers.

Of course, I think she is mostly right, but as with most determinist  readings of a given series of facts, I think she (like the bias people she refers to) misses a great deal of the situation. I think that honestly it’s both (mixed with some arrogance). 

1) The journalists actually believe they understand the issues, well before actually asking the questions (arrogance). The result is that they need only do cursory examinations of the particulars of a given story, because they already believe they understand the overarching narrative of which their story is just a piece. This problem is not limited to journalists, but is common throughout western culture (as even this blog is a partial example). We often believe we’re a lot more knowledgeable than we are, and it’s been a long time since humility was considered a virtue instead  of a neurosis.

Unfortunately life is complex, and the differences between overarching perspectives are hard to capture in a sound byte.

2) The Journalistic worldview is shaped by their culture. Journalists often hang with other journalists, or with other people who have the same educational background. No surprise, but then that is what shapes their understanding of a given set of events. They unconsciously make it fit their metanarrative, and since it "fits" they assume they have it right.

I think that may be why the freakishly talented j-school student who interviewed me for a story after I had dropped out of seminary because I was too conservative, used me for the "liberal" viewpoint. In one sense, I am (I find the Canadian Book of Common Prayer dry). But in most senses (as you can see by reading this site) I’m conservative (at least religiously speaking).

3) Both of these points, if the journalist is not aware of them, leads to “laziness”. Add in the crazy deadlines and inability of journalists to specialize due to budgetary constraints, and you have a recipe for shallow and lazy reporting. It’s not just the specific journalist’s fault. Indeed, we who read journalists may be partially to blame as well. Why aren’t we investing more in the people who inform us about the world?

P.S. I’ll be getting back to my series on the 5 points of Calvinism soon. I apologize, but I’m in the midst of relocating to the other side of the planet.

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Author: Stephen Dawe

Steve is a part-time vocational elder Calvary Baptist Church, St. John's as well as a full-time student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in the Religious Studies Department.

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