News reporting discretion lacking in online age

Dec 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Blogs, Opinions

by Zach Becker

Discerning news from non-news used to be one of the key functions of journalists and their editors. Back in the day, reporters were limited by the practical problem of limited physical space in the print edition. Some things made it, others didn’t.

While I love the Internet (as I sit here blogging), there are times I think editors should use old style discretion when deciding what is and what is not newsworthy. Some things should never be posted online and certainly not as news.

I write this after reading a gossip-style news tidbit from Politico which describes in every detail how Sen. Chuck Schumer called a flight attendant a “bitch” (or the “B-Word,” as Politico puts it) under his breath after she told him to turn off his cell phone before takeoff. After that long-winded gossip, we also get an account of Rep. Virginia Foxx “shooshing” one of her colleagues who whispered something to another person while she was speaking at a conference. Then, we get to hear the stunning news that Rep. Grace Napolitano made chili and guacamole for a party. This sounds like something you’d read in a celebrity gossip column. Have we gotten to the point that we look at politicians in the same light as celebrities, where people want to hear every little detail of the lives of the rich, famous and powerful?

I think the Politico and other outlets who report this nonsense need to exercise a little good old fashioned news discretion.

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  1. Man you sound pretty high and lofty about your notions of journalistic credibility.

    1. News is what sells. Corporate journalism is barely more legitimate than yellow journalism, as the ultimate goal is to generate circulation for advertisers, there will always been an atmosphere of pettiness, because that’s what people like to read.

    2. Politicians, and politics are very much a gossip game. We’re talking about plutocrats who operate in a world where the how much your haircut cost is more important than your standing on HR**** and what sort of equity policy you plan to incorporate into the bill. See that? I did it right there. You honestly care more about the hair cut part of that sentence than the wordy, boring mush of adultstuff at the end of it.

    3. dude you just wrote an article about Adam Lambert. I didn’t even know who he was until my eyes unfortunately grazed over that piece of shoe cheese airheaded entertainment.