Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    Following BuzzFeed's publishing of unverified allegations against Trump, originating from a report allegedly created by a MI6 officer for Trump's domestic opponents, questions are being raised about the media and whether they have a responsibility not to spread potentially false information.

    BuzzFeed themselves have conceded that there is “serious reason to doubt the allegations”, yet still went ahead in publishing it, knowing the media storm it would create.

    The Guardian has a good story on this:

    BuzzFeed’s decision to publish an intelligence report filled with salacious and unsubstantiated claims about Donald Trump’s purported behaviour in Russia has triggered a political storm and debate over media ethics.

    The news website posted the unredacted documents on Tuesday, just 10 days before Trump’s inauguration, with a warning that the contents contained errors and were “unverified and potentially unverifiable”.

    The decision to put the claims in the public domain forced other media outlets to repeat the allegations or ignore a story that lit up the internet. Some critics rounded on BuzzFeed, calling it irresponsible.

    The memos were compiled by the former intelligence officer on behalf of some of Trump’s Republican opponents in the primaries, and later by Democrats.

    Other media outlets including the Guardian obtained and reviewed the documents in recent weeks but declined to publish because there was no way to independently verify them.

    Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief, followed up a few hours later with a statement that defended publication as an act of journalistic transparency in a hyper-partisan era.

    Some prominent journalists and media executives excoriated BuzzFeed. “Even Donald Trump deserves journalistic fairness,” tweeted David Corn, Mother Jones’ Washington bureau chief who reported in October on the existence of – but not the contents of – memos from a “former Western intelligence officer”.

    “Rare that a story stinks from every possible angle: the source, the content, the consequence, the messenger, the target,” tweeted Wolfgang Blau, chief digital officer of Conde Nast International and a former Guardian executive.

    “Not how journalism works: Here’s a thing that might or might not be true, without supporting evidence; decide for yourself if it’s legit,” tweeted Brad Heath, an investigative reporter for USA Today.
    To me, the underlying tension seems to be between two competing views of the functions of ethical journalism: (i) a social media-esque role where media outlets follow "hyper-partisan" (in the words of BuzzFeed's editor in chief) lines, and report on every social media 'story', with little regard to the veracity of the claims made (with perhaps a note that the allegations have not been proven), and (ii) a more responsible kind of journalism, which adheres strictly to notions of credibility and proving claims - acknowledging the power of the media on people's perceptions of current affairs.

    The problem with (ii), however, is that media outlets would feel as though they cannot not report on certain big issues 'doing the rounds' (as it were) on social media, but that continuing to report on such issues would inherently grant them some legitimacy. An example of this is Hillary Clinton's email 'scandal', which received a completely disproportionate amount of attention in the press, and was thus seen as a huge issue by many voters.

    So: what do you think it means to be an "ethical" media/journalist? Do we currently have an ethical media?
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Palmyra)
    So: what do you think it means to be an "ethical" media/journalist? Do we currently have an ethical media?
    To answer the second question first: no. We do not have an ethical media. And the pretense that we do is all but gone, even from the journalists themselves.

    Which brings me to the first question: I don't know. I study journalism at uni, and I have had lectures where the lecturer has told me with a straight face (and the sort of enthusiasm which makes me dream longingly of razorblades and valium) that journalism is a post-objectivity profession.

    I don't even have anything else to say. I don't know what to say. It's immensely dispiriting as a student of journalism, and it should be dispiriting for everyone else too. The reason your media is so **** is because journalists were taught not to care.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by jape)
    Which brings me to the first question: I don't know. I study journalism at uni, and I have had lectures where the lecturer has told me with a straight face (and the sort of enthusiasm which makes me dream longingly of razorblades and valium) that journalism is a post-objectivity profession.
    Did he say why it is (now) a post-objectivity profession? That is pretty worrying. The ramifications of such an approach can't really be overstated, the public, as a whole, are incredibly uninformed/misinformed, and a lot of this is due to the media.

    I don't even have anything else to say. I don't know what to say. It's immensely dispiriting as a student of journalism, and it should be dispiriting for everyone else too. The reason your media is so **** is because journalists were taught not to care.
    This is something I don't really understand, when the media/journalists have so much power to shape public perception, and thus such a huge responsibility for ensuring the public at large are informed to partake in civil society, surely this creates some sort of impetus for objectivity?
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Palmyra)
    Did he say why it is (now) a post-objectivity profession? That is pretty worrying. The ramifications of such an approach can't really be overstated, the public, as a whole, are incredibly uninformed/misinformed, and a lot of this is due to the media.
    The rise of social media and the diversification of our media intake, specifically along ideological lines. The rise of things like Breitbart and the Huffington Post aren't seen as problems, but bandwagons upon which to jump. Which is bad enough, but the real issue arises when people who go through this stuff wind up in places like the BBC or CNN. You know Breitbart and the Huffington Post are biased, but if the people at CNN and the BBC don't care about objective truth where are you supposed to go?

    Incidentally, this is why I don't care at all about the "fake news" crisis. It's all spun and it's all biased. If I want pure facts with no spin I'll go to Reuters, which is just about the only place left where you can get that sort of thing, but otherwise I just try and keep an eye on the particular flavours of **** that I consume.

    This is something I don't really understand, when the media/journalists have so much power to shape public perception, and thus such a huge responsibility for ensuring the public at large are informed to partake in civil society, surely this creates some sort of impetus for objectivity?
    That's one way of looking at it. The other way is that you have a platform and thus the duty to use that platform to cram your vision for the world down people's throats, whether you're being honest about it or not.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by jape)
    The rise of social media and the diversification of our media intake, specifically along ideological lines. The rise of things like Breitbart and the Huffington Post aren't seen as problems, but bandwagons upon which to jump. Which is bad enough, but the real issue arises when people who go through this stuff wind up in places like the BBC or CNN. You know Breitbart and the Huffington Post are biased, but if the people at CNN and the BBC don't care about objective truth where are you supposed to go?
    But then, given this social media driven hyper-partisanism (view (i)), the value of credible, fact-based journalism (view (ii)) rises? Perhaps as the balance continues to tip in favour of (i), we will eventually see a demand for (ii) - and a tipping of the balance in that direction.

    That's one way of looking at it. The other way is that you have a platform and thus the duty to use that platform to cram your vision for the world down people's throats, whether you're being honest about it or not.
    Indeed. The U.K.'s libel laws are ridiculously pro-media. I think our legislation should better reflect the value we, as a society, place on the media. The media is currently given too much leeway to make/report sensationalist claims/allegations (such as the Trump reports from last night) to gain traffic. Parliament removing this leeway (or at least somewhat reducing it) could provide some incentive for media outlets to resist the temptations of social media-esque hyper-partisanism.
    • Offline

      20
      Fake News is everywhere

      Clickbaiting has destroyed proper journalism
      Offline

      2
      ReputationRep:
      (Original post by Palmyra)
      But then, given this social media driven hyper-partisanism (view (i)), the value of credible, fact-based journalism (view (ii)) rises? Perhaps as the balance continues to tip in favour of (i), we will eventually see a demand for (ii) - and a tipping of the balance in that direction.
      I totally agree with you, and I hope you're right.

      Indeed. The U.K.'s libel laws are ridiculously pro-media. I think our legislation should better reflect the value we, as a society, place on the media. The media is currently given too much leeway to make/report sensationalist claims/allegations (such as the Trump reports from last night) to gain traffic. Parliament removing this leeway (or at least somewhat reducing it) could provide some incentive for media outlets to resist the temptations of social media-esque hyper-partisanism.
      Yeah, I do agree. But I'm always skeptical of any government moves to restrict what the press can write. I don't know if I trust the government to draw that line as delicately as it needs to be drawn.
      • Thread Starter
      Offline

      17
      ReputationRep:
      (Original post by jape)
      Yeah, I do agree. But I'm always skeptical of any government moves to restrict what the press can write. I don't know if I trust the government to draw that line as delicately as it needs to be drawn.
      I think the government do have a role to play in this, but that we should of course be very wary of their intentions. The current problem is, in my opinion, at least partially down to the U.K.'s libel laws and how this has manifested in the courts - i.e. the consequences of the 'opinion'/'fact' dichotomy (only the latter being (potentially) libellous), and the 'antidote' remedy (a (prima facie) libellous headline can be 'cured' by the body of the article) is completely out of place given the effect just headlines can have on public opinion.

      Something has to be done to incentivise responsible journalism, and I think the libel laws would be a good place to start. Either that or we give up completely, and end up with a dangerously misinformed/divided society.
     
     
     
  1. See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  2. Poll
    What newspaper do you read/prefer?
    Useful resources
  3. See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  4. The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Quick reply
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.