Media's "Emotional Center" and Lack of Journalistic Integrity

John Hockenberry, a former Dateline reporter has written a fascinating article for Technology Review on the "emotional center" of the news business and how little it has to do with actually delivering serious news or getting people to actually think.

This is a great read and really delivers some insight into life in the trenches of corporate television:

In the spring of 2005, after working in television news for 12 years, I was jettisoned from NBC News in one of the company's downsizings. The work that I and others at Dateline NBC had done--to explore how the Internet might create new opportunities for storytelling, new audiences, and exciting new mechanisms for the creation of journalism--had come to naught. After years of timid experiments, NBC News tacitly declared that it wasn't interested. The culmination of Dateline's Internet journalism strategy was the highly rated pile of programming debris called To Catch a Predator. The TCAP formula is to post offers of sex with minors on the Internet and see whether anybody responds. Dateline's notion of New Media was the technological equivalent of etching "For a good time call Sally" on a men's room stall and waiting with cameras to see if anybody copied down the number.

Hockenberry doesnt pull any punches here and talks at length about how NBC's parent, GE, was more interested in delivering glossy fluff than true, make-you-think television.

Sadly, this is nothing new for news.

I am reminded once-again of a quote by Edward R Murrow:

"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. "

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