The media needs improvements, but is more stable than the public may think.
Journalism is based on reporting facts, and going into the field to interview people, but the Internet has changed the way stories are reported on. Now many stories can be done without leaving the newsroom, changing the dynamic between reporters and the public.
Dale Bass, board chair and the B.C./Yukon representative for the Canadian Association of Journalists, thinks journalists spend too much time in newsrooms to understand their readers’ interests.
“[The media] needs to go back to the way it used to be, go back to when we weren’t just writing and rewriting press releases,” said Bass. “If you’re a reporter, you have to get off your butt, get out of your office, talk to people, listen to people, and answer their questions.”
Is objectivity the best policy for the media?
Bass wonders if the media should remain objective.
“I wonder sometimes about the veil of objectivity we all have, and whether we need to continue promulgating that,” said Bass. “Should journalists protest? I don’t know.”
Rob Dykstra, a retired Langara journalism department chair, believes journalists should “have a lot of integrity in terms of presenting information that’s based on facts, and not working opinions into stories.”
Dykstra believes many news outlets rely on company-sponsored press releases to fill pages.
“Because the media are generally so short staffed these days, they will generally pick those up and run them, not realizing…the vested interest behind that story,” Dykstra said.
Higher standards for news outlets than others
Steven Malkowich, executive vice president of Alberta Newspaper Group, accused blogs of contributing to damaged reputations of the media.
“If we write something that is fake, or disingenuous, we’ll get sued,” said Malkowich. “Someone will sue us for slander or libel, but on the internet, you can just say whatever, and nobody gets sued. There’s no deterrent to doing it.”
According to Dykstra, this goes back to journalism principles.
“[This] really is a matter of re-establishing public trust in journalism, based on the integrity of fact-based journalism.”