Investigative Journalism Jumps Down The Well?

The tools of the trade...
The tools of the trade…

How many of us have grown up with the image of a real news reporter being an interpid, tough as nails go-getter who will do whatever it takes to get the story – simply because that’s their job and that’s what’s the right thing to do.

Truth comes first and foremost and there is no hiding from it.

The vision, the ideal, the concept is so ingrained in us of a news reporter – the agents of the fourth estate – who are the sole voices of truth amidst a sea of grey. They exist everywhere : from Tintin to Lois Lane in Superman (comics) to Okamuru in Blood+ (anime) to Danny Concannon in The West Wing (TV) and even in real life with guys like Hunter S. Thompson (the father of Gonzo journalism) and Joe Galloway who’s ballsy reporting was dramatised in the movie We Were Soldiers.

They are the ideal, that unflinching seeker of fact who will in the end report the facts and nothing but – no matter what their personal bias.

Many of us who remember this idea and are not so young that the modern mass-media monstrosity is all we really know, will understand the concern over the changing face of journalism and the idea that it is losing it’s heart and soul; that corporate and miscellaneous private interests (and groups) are either the deciders or being pandered to and that it’s now more about ratings, sensationalism and hype than really bringing out the news that people need to hear.

Modern journalism... unfortunately.
Modern journalism… unfortunately.

Some may blame America and their obsession with pop-culture and such – and that’s not wrong. But to me when people blame places like the U.S for stuff like this it reminds me of that lesson from childhood we all know in some form : “If all your friends jumped into the well, would you?”

Just because a culture is popular in a place, is anyone forcing another country to adopt it? No. That our agencies may choose to is our fault. That they might become worse, again, is on us. Taking responsibility – another thing we’ve forgotten how to do as human beings, first insticnt is to find a way to pass the buck.

BUT this is getting serious and that was not solely the intention.

You see this started off as me wanting to talk about this a wee bit and share this insanely hilarious and scarily enlightening piece of investigative journalism by the oft-brilliant John Oliver for The Daily Show, entitled “Investigating Investigative Journalism“.

On this past Monday’s episode of the parody-news show – that is scarily a better news source than most actual news channels! – our host John Stewart asked, “Investigative journalism—what ever happened to that?” The response was a truly brilliant and honestly shocking piece from correspondent John Oliver as he found that while the hard-nosed reporting might be a dwindling priority at various news networks, the practice is cropping up in some other unusual places.

During an interview with investigative reporter Kaj Larsen (who by the way is one of the most badass guys I never heard of till now), the former CNN journalist said that he is now employed by HBO‘s “The Newsroom” due to the news network’s downsizing.

John and Kaj!

I work at ‘The Newsroom’ … I pitch them ideas about investigative stories and they take those real world ideas and they inject them into the plot lines of the show,” Larsen said.

To prove it, the visited the set of the show even and spoke to the folks there – which cracked me the hell up! – but it was the responses from the guys in charge, the reasons why there is such a dramatic shift in journalism practices and standards is what left me almost speechless. This was not even trying to put a spin, this was shameless truth (which is a rarity these days, I’ll admit) but it was so unexpected…

Anyway, I’ll keep on and on about it and start rambling so just click below and prepare to simultaneously laugh your sides out and blow your mind.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. diannegray says:

    Thanks for the link! I love parody-news shows and totally agree that true journalism is really going down the toilet these days!

    1. Spider42 says:

      You haven’t seen The Daily Show before? Oh you’re missing out – even better (in some ways) on the same site look for The Colbert Report, if you haven’t seen it, you’ll get a real kick out of it. 🙂

  2. If you ask me there are few “journalists” left in the world, the majority belonging to a very different category – reporters. And the situation in India is particularly troubling. Objectivity and responsible and researched news has gone straight out the window! And as much as I would love to blame it on the trend of sensationalism in the US, at least they still have some measure of regulation. In India the second you even attempt to introduce some level of regulation or responsibility the media jumps straight to the censorship card. I mean I know it can be a slippery slope, but if we’re insisting on a law for regulation of our judges then why not one of the most powerful industries/mediums in existence?!

    1. Spider42 says:

      You’re right about the “few journalists” part, but honestly, my problem isn’t with them or the reporters – it’s with the folks in charge.
      It’s the guys who make the decisions on what is news and what isn’t and what to focus on and what is not news-worthy based on premises irrelevant to news-reporting. Basically the folks like the twat John talks to who explains it.
      Indian journalism in particular has gotten really bad and as I’ve said to folks before, the US has a lot of bad habits, but they also have some degree of balance – for every Fox News, there is a Daily Show and Colbert Report (and more serious ones, yes) but they allow for different sides to say what they think, they might have flaws but they protect the right to speak your mind and everyone to have free speech. Even hateful crap-bags like the Westboro Baptist Church who any other country would imprison or outright slaughter if they could get away with it.
      In India we have a dangerous tendency to pick up bad habits from others and not the good and with journalism/reporting, we’ve done the same I think.
      Oh, and I don’t agree about the regulation man, this is one field that has to have as little regulation as possible – it is meant to be the epitome of freedom in speech and information and should only be regulated to the extent of being held accountable for reporting something hateful or clearly biased or wrong instead of the honest reportage of facts that is their whole job.

  3. Jodi Mclean says:

    Short of switching beats, there’s not a lot you can do if this what your editors want. And I’m guessing they do, as it’s a pretty central part of most newspaper cops and courts coverage. In the meantime, I’d try to pitch bigger-picture cops and courts ideas: investigative pieces, profiles, and other types of pieces that go deeper than what’s on the scanner. But #realtalk? I’d also start job hunting.

    1. Spider42 says:

      It’s why I’m glad I got out of journalism fairly early!

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