Losing the truth in the news…

Regardless of the degree of press freedom, Alex Kane believes the press we do have is all too often happy to propagandise rather than simply tell us the truth. The result is that people are increasingly reading what they want to hear, and journalists are beginning to be trusted less than jobbing politicians.

By Alex Kane

Sixty-six years ago, on October 30th, 1938, at about 8.30 in the evening, a couple of million Americans filled their cars with food and headed for the hills. Many others made their way to local churches for impromptu services, and still more sandbagged their homes and unlocked the weapons cupboard.

And the cause of this widespread panic? They believed that their country had been invaded by Martians! At a time when three quarters of the population listened to radio as their main form of entertainment and information, they tuned in to hear what they believed was a “live” news broadcast. Snug in their front rooms on that cold autumn evening, with whole families gathered around their “household friend,” they listened in mounting terror as an obviously terrified reporter told them; “Good heavens, something

  • AndrewD

    Good column. Enjoyable as always.

  • aquifer

    It is clear that many are up to the challenge of filling space, but what with? Tribal platitudes, sanitised for a public forum, will always pass the editorial standard in divided NI. And why probe too deep, get to the chunky bits hidden at the bottom, or prick the gassy bubbles, when the oily surface has so much journalist colour. And what a debt the press owes the paramilitaries and political provocateurs. All those monster demonstrations, the pyrotechnics, all that blood. Only fair to provide newsprint for their political fingerpainting.

    Luckily the internet has creating vast new spaces where the mediocre is devalued currency, and where the public record should be in a searchable database. Journalistic research and analysis takes time. Time, talent, and courage cost money or should, and there is only so much that advertising can pay for.

    Journalistic deadlines make it hard to bring the analytical focus to bear. Even gold standard news organisations have trouble presenting current stories that contain specialist or scientific issues that have known resolutions.

    If we won’t pay for the analysis maybe we need more speculation, a degree of respect befitting a society that shoots people and maims children, and plenty provocation. A scattergun should hit both stale and sorry sides about equally.