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What is a newspaper?

If I want to know what a politician is saying, I don’t really need a journalist. The politicians have websites, blogs, twitter feeds and email newsletters. They give speeches, many of which are shown on TV. If all we need to know is what politicians say, we can replace the entirety of journalism with some camera operators, a TiVo, and an RSS reader. If that’s the extent of journalism, it’s probably not a career with much of a future.

If journalism is to be useful, it really ought to do something that a TiVo can’t. A TiVo can’t add context, or check whether the source is lying. It seems to me that those sort of things would be good value propositions for a journalist.

Some good posts recent posts on this topic:

Dr. Free-Ride
If the paper of record views getting the facts right as a style choice, where the hell is the public supposed to get the facts?

Slacktivist
If your mother tells you she loves you and you turn around and repeat, “My mother loves me,” or even the slightly more careful, “My mother says she loves me,” then you’re not a reporter or a journalist. You’re not reporting, just repeating. That’s stenography or gossip, not journalism.

Checking it out is what makes a reporter and what makes a report.

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January 14, 2012 at 1:02 am
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