Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I'm going to lie

by Robert Doll

Deal with it. At least that's what every major news outlet should say. Wait better yet, that's what every media person should say. Wait, hold on, that's what every person should say then we could all get on with our merry tidings of bonbons and crumpets. But they won't; so now we have the delicious bonbons and crumpets on hold. What are the ratings, what's the readership, what's the reach, what's the effect, the persuasion, the impact ask all the produces and the managers. Then, somewhere way at the bottom of the list, they ask what's the truth. Does the truth matter?

Yes of course it matters, but apparently it's not nearly as important as one of the aforementioned terms. But is it journalists' fault that they are forced to lie. Let's be serious, the truth is never sexy; it's never fun. The impact of the truth is finite - where as the impact of a lie is infinite. The truth can only do so much; however, lies are absolutely boundless. So what type of media do you want to consume? One that is strict, or one that is sexy? And please don't lie. That's the problem we face as journalists. We have to create sexy with limited resources. So we lie because sexy always has more readers than strict. The publics make us lie.

Journalists simply reflect everything the public wants. We are the giant mirror on the wall of the of the world. Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most interesting of them all? Citizen journalists are on fire right now because they tell interesting stories. Not always truthful stories, but always interesting ones. Jeff Bercovici argues that citizen journalists - for the most part - don't play by the same rules professional journalists do, as he details a story of how a citizen journalist lied to get quotes.

This person was after an interesting story and took extreme measures to get there.Let's compare two major sources of media: YouTube and the Wall Street Journal. Which one lies the least and which one has a larger audience? Hint: it won't be the same source. Here are the circulation numbers for the 100 most popular newspapres.  Now consider YouTube's audience, which boasts that over 2 billion videos are streamed daily. The two simply cannot be compared, but why is YouTube incredibly more popular than the Wall Street Journal. The answer is simple: YouTube is allowed to lie and the Wall Street Journal is not. Lying creates more interesting media. However, we just can't lie about lying. If we are going to lie, we need to let our consumers know before they view our media that we intend to lie.

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