Forget losing weight, let’s try and get the political media to do a better job in 2015.
Another year has come and gone, and as usual we got our fair share of media screw ups. This is to be expected, after all journalists are only human, but it’s always good to be better. So instead of vowing to lose weight, here are my suggestions of how our chattering classes could do a better job in 2015.
(1) It’s okay to say “I don’t know”: Ever wonder how many ways there are to say “I don’t know?” Well if you’d like a laundry list just check out the political media during a developing story. Figuring out what is happening during chaotic events can be really hard, especially when they are happening on the other side of the world. But rather than trying to bluff their way through an interview or online piece with phrases like “this story is still developing” or “the White House remains tight lipped” reporters should just admit the obvious, and say “I don’t know” when they don’t.
(2) Stop turning mass murders into anti-heroes: Ezra Klein made a great point during the aftermath of the Isla Vista shootings last spring. Simply put the media’s tendency to cover mass murders at saturation levels and with lots of “what does it all mean” type of pieces glorify mass murders in death, and possibly create copy cats in the future. Unfortunately these events seem to occur with some regularity in our nation, but let’s try and meet the next one with coverage of the victims and who they were rather than turning the murderer into some kind of anti-hero. As Ezra put it:
Every time a mass murderer wins fame and glory through killing it helps convince the next mass murderer that a shooting spree will give them the respect in death that they were never able to acquire in life.
(3) Get the fundamentals right: One of the most frustration media episodes this year was Rolling Stone’s piece highlighting the problem of sexual assault on campus. Rolling Stone may have meant well, but the story they produced was shown to be riddled with the type of mistakes that would embarrass a J-school student. There really is no excuse for this sort of thing, especially in this day and age.
(4) Stop letting trolls steal the spotlight: David Carr, The New York Times’ in house media columnist, had a lot of fun this year profiling Charles C. Johnson, a sort of internet mega-troll who does things like publish the home addresses of reporters whose pieces he disagrees with. I enjoy a good internet fight as much as anyone else, but people like Johnson really thrive on free media coverage, even if it’s someone dismantling them in public. We really should all stop doing it, after all even if Johnson quits tomorrow and begs forgiveness, someone else could easily step up and embrace his tactics in an attempt to win fame and fortune. Accordingly this is the last thing I will ever write about Johnson.
(5) Can the dumb words: Cats “pounce” politicians issue statements on things. These statements say things, they do not “blast” or “eviscerate” or result in (and it physically pains me to write this) “pwning” anyone. Now I know what folks in the political media are going to say, “But if I take out the colorful language then my story filled largely with rewritten press releases will be boring!” This is true, but it means that you should stop trying to jazz up rewritten press releases. Go find out what’s actually happening, don’t rework press statements.
Happy New Years Everyone!
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