Following will be a series of points regarding what I see as an alarming trend in “journalism”. After watching the “reporting” that took place during the University of Tennessee coaching search and recent NASCAR reporter layoffs, I have made a few observations of things I felt compelled to point out.
And before I go any further, I want to point out that I am not a trained journalist. I am a high school teacher who took writing about racing up as a hobby back in 2008. That said, however, I make every effort to learn from others who are actually trained in the field and to be as honest, factual and unbiased as I can be. I have definitely learned a lot over the past ten years from other writers and from my own mistakes.
So with all of that said, here are some dangerous trends I am seeing play out in today’s journalism:
1. The rush to be first has replaced the need to be right. During the UT coaching search, supposedly trained journalists reported every rumor they heard, often as fact. It seemed as if they figured that one of these tidbits of information is bound to be true so I want to say I was first to report it once it does in fact happen. Everyone will forget all of the misinformation I put out there as long as I can say I was first to get what proved to be the eventual story out first.
2. In the so-called news reporting that shows up on sites such as AOL News, pieces that are posted are presented as actual news when in fact they are nothing more than rants filled with personal opinions about whatever issue is the hot topic of that particular day. This has made its way into sports reporting all too often as well. When I write an opinion piece, such as this one, I always try to make it clear that it is indeed an opinion and nothing more.
3. Unfortunately, however, many modern-day reporters are simply bowing to the wishes of their readers. It seems as if people want reporters to take sides rather than report facts. Reporters are often maligned for not declaring that Jon Gruden is coming to coach at Tennessee or that a certain racer is a jerk because he took out my favorite.
4. The internet has made everyone a reporter. With the ability to post things as they happen in the moment, any news that took place five minutes ago is old news. As a result, why bother doing research when offering a story of any kind, racing or otherwise? By the time you do your research, people will have moved on to the next hashtag.
5. Clickbait headlines are now commonplace which are followed by stories that have little or no substance. It seems as if readers are typically inclined to look at the headline then go straight to the comments section so they can post their view or criticism and also to make it obvious they did not actually read the story. So, just write catchy headlines to secure those clicks.
6. And finally, we are not a society endowed with patience. As a result, if the information being disseminated can not be contained within the space of a tweet, it probably won’t be read at all. So again, why bother with research or detail?
Thanks for tolerating my rant on the state of modern-day “journalism”. After seeing real reporters like those in NASCAR recently get laid off or those from ESPN that fell victim in favor of others who do nothing more than stir controversy, I felt compelled to say something.