The Rise of Critical Journalism. Traditional reporting came under attack within the news media in the 1960s. The existing rules held that reporters should refrain from speculation and confine themselves to reporting the facts. Newsmakers had the advantage under these rules: their public words and actions largely determined the content of political coverage. The rules of reporting changed with Vietnam and Watergate, when the deceptions perpetrated by the Johnson and Nixon administrations convinced reporters that they had let the nation down by taking political leaders at their word. Two presidents had lied, and politicians’ words and actions would no longer be taken at face value. Other developments—including the growing celebrity status of the television journalist and heightened audience competition—also fueled a more critical form of reporting. Journalists today find fault with most everything that politicians say and do. The press no longer even has much respect for public officials’ private lives—even their bedroom behavior is fair game for news stories. Reporters, as Michael Robinson suggests, seem to have taken some motherly advice and turned it upside down: “If you don’t have anything bad to say about anyone, don’t say anything at all.” As a result, negative coverage of politics has risen dramatically in recent decades. Negative coverage of presidential candidates, for example, now exceeds their positive coverage (FIGURE 12). By 1990, negative coverage of Congress and its members was over 80%. Each president since 1976—Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton—has received more negative coverage than his predecessor. Federal agencies have fared no better; in the 1990-1995 period, for example, not a single cabinet-level agency received more positive than negative coverage. As portrayed by the press, America’s public leadership is almost universally inept and selfserving.
Critical journalism, however, places an extraordinary demand on the reporter. In theory, it requires the journalist to thoroughly scrutinize the behavior of officials and bring to light their shortcomings. And indeed, there are instances where careful investigative journalism has contributed to proper governance. In the early 1970s, for example, the U.S. press through its Watergate investigations helped force the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Topnotch investigative journalism, however, requires an amount of time that most journalists are not normally allowed to devote to stories. It ordinarily takes a great deal of effort to determine the validity of a politician’s claim or to prove instances of wrongdoing or ineptitude. The pressures of the 24-hour news cycle make it nearly impossible for journalists to regularly engage in high-quality investigative reporting.
torsdag, mars 27, 2008
Hur kritisk journalistik skadar demokratin
Läste just en intressant uppsats av Thomas E. Patterson: Doing Well and Doing Good: How Soft News and Critical Journalism Are Shrinking the News Audience and Weakening Democracy - And What News Outlets Can Do About It. Den har visserligen ett par år på nacken och studien gäller USA men de senaste årens utveckling i Sverige visar att problematiken Patterson beskriver i hög grad är aktuell även här. Jag behöver väl knappast påminna om Schenström, Danielsson eller Stegö. Givetvis måste man skilja på olika typer av kritisk journalistisk, vilket Patterson också gör. Här följer ett utdrag:
Av Jonathan Leman kl. 10:32