Tonight’s the first night of my #StarTrek daily marathon. I’ll be watching 1 episode of TOS and films each night leading up to Into Darkness
Since its release in April 1976, All the President’s Men has become THE must see film for aspiring journalism students. Giving a look inside the breaking of one of the biggest stories in US history, that lead to the only President to ever resign, the film showed the process of interviewing sources, corroboration, and a willingness to print stories that would receive hatred and backlash. But these men did what was necessary to find the truth. One of the biggest parts that stuck with me was when Ben Bradlee refused to run the information that came from Deep Throat without a second source. This impacted me in the sense that, up until that point, I hadn’t considered the idea of a news source might not tell the truth. (I was young, give me a break) But having two unrelated source giving the same information would be a much better barometer for what is true, so this policy made sense.
In the last decade, we have heard from the big, mainstream media how internet journalism isn’t REAL journalism. They always held themselves to a higher standard and I assumed that the reason for this thought was that anyone could post anything on the internet, but that media like newspapers, magazines, and television news had oversight to make sure that everything printed is the truth. Of course, the reality is more grey then that. Now, television resembles the net, where every Tom, Dick, and dumbass can spout any garbage they wish and call it truth and print media has had more then it’s fair share of issues, but they still held to this lofty position that traditional journalism is better the the internet. All of that changed on January 24th 2013.
On this date, a well respected Hollywood website called The Wrap, reported that fan favorite director J. J. Abrams was attached to direct Disney/Lucasfilms upcoming Star Wars Episode VII. This report was based solely on one unnamed source, listed in the article as “an individual with knowledge of the production.”
While this report may or may not be true, that is irrelevant (it has not been confirmed by Disney or Lucasfilm at the time of this writing). What is important is how it shows that the journalism culture has changed in our society, and not for the better. It’s unsurprising that this kind of rumor would spread over the internet like wildfire. Next to Joss Whedon, Abrams is arguably the most desired director to potentially helm Star Wars. But this hasn’t just been on the internet.
The Associated Press, the New York Times, Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly, let’s be honest, everyone, is reporting this as a fact, and it is all based on one article quoting one unnamed source.
What happened to research? What happened to multiple sources? Again, I’m not saying that this story isn’t true. I’m saying that I am extremely disappointed that these “real” journalism outlets would print this story as more then a rumor, with nothing more to go on then a website saying its true because they talked to someone who said so.
Old journalism, you are now on notice. Never again can you claim superiority to internet journalism. This culture of “gotta have it first, regardless of whether it’s true or not” is disgusting and harmful to the intelligence of our entire society. You may think I’m taking a report about Star Wars a little too seriously, but it’s not the content, it’s the principal of the thing. We now have the biggest news gathering outlets in the US writing stories based on articles from websites that come from a person who may be close to the production of a movie. And their reports are not, “The Wrap is reporting that JJ Abrams is the new Star Wars Director,” or “New Rumors That Abrams Will Helm Star Wars Episode VII.” No, we get “JJ Abrams Will Direct the Next Star Wars.” Scary stuff.
As exciting as this news may be, the way it has been reported is wrong. So congratulations to all of us. We now live in a society where a story that comes from a guy who talked to a guy who may be involved with that thing is now mainstream news. Journalism is dead.