When Shirley Sherrod was fired from her USDA administrator job, it was the icing on the cake of journalism’s decline. The abbreviated video clip of her speech to the NAACP—delivered before being hired in her most recent job—had the blogs, media, government officials and White House abuzz for days. Sherrod had been “convicted” of racism before anyone took the time to fact check.
Fact checking is a staple of traditional journalism. Good and ethical media hold back from printing or posting news that hasn’t been thoroughly verified. But, in this instant Web 2.0 world, we are all publishers and citizen journalists. Nothing holds any of us back from publishing content online, whether truthful, questionable, or outright misleading.
We have reached a slippery slope where none of us can truly determine what is real from what is fabricated or twisted. And just because we can post a link to another site for reference, who’s to say that what’s posted there has any merit?
The news, which used to be comprised of important topics affecting our world community, now include reports on Lindsay Lohan’s jail time, the latest viral YouTube videos, and countless reports on a sports figure’s trade to another team. Has America dumbed down this much?
I’m waiting for the pendulum to complete its swing and return to its central position on the fulcrum. I’m waiting for people to realize that real journalism doesn’t come from bloggers like Andrew Breitbart (who posted Sherrod’s speech). It isn’t coming from CNN’s ireporters, or from biased opinion pieces or op-ed shows. It comes from investigative journalists who work on news ethically and impartially using the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when and why).
What do you think? Is journalism dead or are we in some type of transition? What do you think of citizen journalism?