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On the Media

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The profession (or trade?) of journalism has gotten the shit kicked out of it lately. Some of those kicks (for plagiarism scandals, careless errors and--most ominously--repeated corporate cuts for the sake of astronomical profits) have been much-deserved. Others, however, have not been deserved, most notably the whole hubbub over the tragically incorrect news reports that almost all of the miners in the Sago, W.Va., tragedy were alive. (Yeah, the newspapers goofed up, but it was an honest mistake, seeing as various official sources were saying the miners were alive.)

Here's the truth, though: Newspapers are as accurate and as factual today as they've ever been. In the days before technological advances such as satellite feeds and--most importantly--the Internet, it was much, much harder for journalists to verify and confirm facts. And just as crucially, it was much more difficult for the public, for other media sources and for new media sources (such as today's bloggers) to call the media on their goofs.

Because of all this, the media of today, as a whole (and this includes TV, radio, newspapers, Internet publications and bloggers), are as good as they've ever been. But there are threats out there--most notably, as mentioned above, the drive for ever-increasing profits by media owners, large and small. If newspapers die off, it won't be because of bloggers and Craigslist; it'll be because greedy companies kept hacking away at the resources given to the newspapers because a 15 percent profit margin (or whatever) wasn't good enough.

Meanwhile--and I realize I am in large part preaching to the choir here--it's up to the public to be smart media consumers, giving their business/readership/viewership to good media sources--and calling a media source on the carpet when it messes something up.

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