Monday, July 7, 2008

Media Covering Media

From quite the column on covering FOX News, a point that arouses my (tiny, ineffectual) wrath:

Many of the television-beat reporters I called had horror stories [regarding covering FOX], but few were willing to be quoted. In the last several years, reporters from The Associated Press, several large newspapers and various trade publications have said they were shut out from getting their calls returned because of stories they had written. Editors do not want to hear why your calls are not being returned, they just want you to fix the problem, or perhaps they will fix it by finding someone else to do your job.

Let's assume for a moment this is true. I don't think that's much of a stretch. What does it suggest?

It suggests one of at least two things are happening. One, that editors, by and large, don't realize that FOX is not playing by the same rules as everyone else; or, two, that the editors who have this kind of response know but just don't care.

I have problems with either one. FOX, as an organization, clearly harms journalism. As such, I would have expected other journalists and/or news organizations to step in and do something, much in the same way I keep waiting for professional pharmacists' associations to step in and restore the integrity of their profession by telling those who refuse to dispense morning-after or birth control pills to stop the nonsense or get out of the business. (In other words, for the professionals in a field to want to have a say in defining and enforcing said definition regarding what it means to work in a field; as far as I'm concerned, that's the best way to maintain integrity. Call it the professional equivalent of a licensing program, like those used for electricians or contractors.)

However, that doesn't seem to be happening. I don't travel in journalism circles enough to know if there are even many journalists who even see this is an issue, so I can't really comment on that. But from here, it seems like journalists - and more importantly, editors - who play along with FOX's insanity are, at the least, not standing in the way of FOX damaging the profession of journalism, and why they would do so is beyond me.

Any journalists out there want to take a stab at explaining this to me? What am I missing?


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