Saturday, 2 February 2013

More on the death of journalism


With our breath bated we waited, What could it be? What terrible act would bring down the minister - departmental failure, corruption or...what's this? Ah, Twitter!

The newspaper that likes to think of itself as that little bit more right-on than all the others has chosen as its lead story - emblazoned across its front page - a sad little tale about Twitter:

An anonymous Twitter account called @toryeducation* is regularly used to attack critical stories about both Gove and his department. It is often abreast of imminent Tory policies, suggesting it is coming from close to the centre of government. However, it is also used to rubbish journalists and Labour politicians while promoting Gove's policies and career. 

There was a time when newspapers reported news, when journalists wrote about wars, dug into real scandal and investigated actual corruption.  For sure there was plenty of gossip and, to serve the market for this stuff, the newspaper would have a diary column tucked away somewhere in its bowels. Now, it seems, stories that merit a couple of lines in that diary now run on the front page.

We are, I fear, watching the death throes of journalism. It is being killed by two things - firstly the economics of publishing newspapers means that real story-finding is too expensive and secondly, political journalists now see themselves as players rather than observers and reporters. Newspapers are filled with a mix of rewarmed press releases and tittle-tattle. The comments of other journalists are reported creating a  purposeless and news-free circus.

Is it any wonder that each year fewer people bother to buy newspapers when they don't report on the real world  but on the land of pine-scrubbed kitchen table make-believe that these London-based "journalists" occupy. While there are wars, terrorist attacks, banking crises and much else besides, The Observer deems that a snarky little Twitter spat is more important.


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