Almost every day now there is a controversy about “journalists” or pundits twitting outrageous statements. The latest example was courtesy of a contributor at MSNBC who last Tuesday tweeted “This is my nominee for the first ISIS suicide bombing of a Trump property” above a picture of the Trump Tower in Istanbul, Turkey.
As I wrote in one of my most shared columns this year, The Power of the Microphone, “Journalists around the world suffer from visions of grandeur and live as prisoners of their egos.”
They are convinced that the world needs to know what they are thinking 24/7. In my opinion, good journalists and real field experts are not even on Twitter, and if they are, they only use social media to promote their already published commentary.
Nonetheless, besides pride, there is another factor in this equation. The absence of a style corrector inside many publications today is the cause of misleading information known presently as “fake news” in digital contents.
Back in my days as an intern at a Colombian newspaper, the fact and form checkers–whom I learned the most about writing from–examined with patience each article with a magnifying glass and decanted events, spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors before going to print.
In contrast, the digital and social media shoots news like an automatic assault weapon, loaded with spelling and ethical mistakes allowing “visceral reactions”–the number one excuse for out of place tweets these days–creating controversy and generating online traffic.
If we add into the mix the lack of disciplinarian action from editors and management at news organizations, who limit to publish press releases distancing their outlets from the opinions of their own employees, it makes it seem as if they all cast a stone but hide their hands.
Last Saturday, I read an interview of the former director of the Colombian press association, Nora Sanín, who retired after 22 years. When asked about the transformation of the press with Internet, she stated two things that caught my attention.
First. she said that “quality journalism is expensive,” and second, that newspapers made the mistake of delivering online content for free from the beginning.
Although I understand that media outlets are businesses before a community service, and therefore they must be run to be profitable, I don’t think is fair that one must pay a dollar fifty to get real news.
With this in mind, I guess that the only people who are getting the “truth” are subscribed and the rest of us are getting the cheap and fake news.
Thanks for reading and sharing.