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Thursday, November 30, 2017
Book By CBS News Legend Bob Schieffer Provides Insights On Dealing With The Media
Schieffer, a real newsman, has been a reporter for over 60 years, including
four decades at CBS News. He started out
in newspapers. He’s respected by the
news media and citizens alike. His new
best-selling book is excellent. Overload:
Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News (Rowman &
Littlefield) examines today’s journalism and how those who practice it view
their profession. Today’s journalism is
a changing landscape and under attack from fake news, ad budget cuts, the
Internet, and changing tastes of the American public. Schieffer guides us through the media maze.
have access to more information that at any time in history,” says the book
jacket copy. “But are we more informed
or just overwhelmed by so much information we can’t process?”
talks a lot about the 2016 presidential election and the role all media played
to inform people.
shows some sobering stats:
reporter in 8 lived in New York, Washington, or Los Angles in 2004. By 2014 it
was down to 1 in 5.
125 daily newspapers shuttered over the last decade – and the majority of
surviving ones have made drastic editorial staff cuts.
recent study by the Pew Foundation showed that 21 of 50 states lacked a single
daily with a DC-based reporter to cover Congress.
are a few good excerpts from his book:
and innuendo have always been a part of most cultures, but what has changed is
universal access to the web and the ability to transit information, true or
false, to literally billions of people in milliseconds.
all of the industry’s bad news, newspapers keep finding innovative ways to keep
publishing – on paper and online. Some
are partnering with nonprofits and journalism schools, nearly all have devised
ways to do more with less, and some, like the Washington Post, have been fortunate to find new owners with deep
pockets, but with its new owner and new editor, the Post has created a whole new culture in its sparkling new
editors not only increase the possibility of mistakes but also require
individual reporters to be well grounded in libel law and ethics. Learning on
the job and having the backup of experienced editors are luxuries unavailable
to many young journalists, and this puts new emphasis on what they need to know
as they embark on that first job. It is
somewhat akin to pickup sandlot sports.
Sure you can learn the game without a coach, but a coach can help the
·CONCLUSION: Americans are so overwhelmed by information
in the digital era they cannot process it.
It seems reasonable to conclude that specialists and some elites are
more informed, especially if one judges advances in math and scientific
fields. But there is little to suggest
we are more informed politically, which is especially difficult for those in
the lower-income groups. Research
indicates that situation may be getting worse with increased reliance on mobile
devices – a development that could further divide an already deeply divided
·CONCLUSION: Fake news made up out of whole cloth for
political or financial profit poses a growing and dangerous threat to
democracies both here and in Europe, all of which depend on informed
electorates and faith in traditional institutions.
the risk of stating the obvious, of all the changes brought on by the
technological revolution, fake news is clearly the most dangerous and will be
the hardest to eradicate.
depend on an informed electorate with access to independently gathered,
accurate information that they can compare to the government’s version of
events. It is as vital as the right to
effort by government or outside agents to impede or undermine the free flow of
information is a serious and real threat to democracy and should never be taken
have spent too much time worried about whether newspapers should continue to
print their news on paper when we should have been worried about the story, not
the surface on which it was printed.
There seems little question that the decline of newspapers has had an
impact on politics. In large rural areas
it has not been a question of what kind of local news people were getting but
whether they were getting any news at all.
dearth of political news in so many areas poses an obvious danger: if some entity doesn’t rise up to do what we
once depended on local newspapers to do, we’ll have corruption in cities and
towns across America on a scale we have never known.
politician’s mission is to deliver a message.
Our job is to determine if it is true and what its implications will be
for the electorate.
should not assume that everyone in public life is corrupt or there for evil
reasons, and we should never leave the impression that we are the exclusive
fount of all wisdom.
are not the opposition party. We are
reporters. Our role is simply to ask
questions and to keep asking until we get an answer. That will not always make us popular, but it
is clearly what the Founders intended. I am proud to be a reporter.
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