Journalists Need to Quit Acting Like Jerks

I’ll always consider myself a journalist, even though I haven’t earned a living that way since 2012.

That’s the year I moved from TV news to creating a digital content business. Today, I probably read more Google News, social posts and email newsletters than anyone on the planet.

So I listen to the debate over ‘fake news’ from a different place.

I know — for a fact — that the great majority of people working at the broadcast stations and newspapers in our land are passionate truth seekers. The hours are long, unplugged vacations are rare, and only the highest profile jobs will make you rich. They work in newsrooms for all the right reasons.

Most take extreme steps (frankly way more than anyone else in business) to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Yet public opinion has tanked. What gives?

I humbly suggest that journalists have been acting like jerks, and social media has been their playground.

The Internet and social media have created a forum where you can drop a verbal bomb without consequences.

Such as ….

President continues to lie. WH does gymnastics to make up stuff to support those lies. @Reince was once a rational person.” (Tweeted by a journalist at ABC News)

Or:

“The ironic thing about Jeff Sessions being so anti-marijuana is that he must be high if he thinks we’re ok with the news about him & Russia.” (From a local news anchor)

President Trump has famously pointed out examples of ‘fake news.’

But what we’re seeing is not ‘fake news.’ (“Elvis is alive and well and living in Michigan” would be fake news.)

No, this is news reported with ‘attitude’ — The use of unneeded adjectives in copy and reporting that oozes cynicism.

Here’s the deal.

As a news consumer, I don’t WANT to know your political leanings. And frankly, the most interesting reporters on Twitter and Facebook take pains NEVER to reveal how they feel personally. Yet we’ve found ourselves in a political climate where what used to be the rule, is now the exception.

And all journalists are paying the price in waning public confidence.

A TV news client of ours recently mentioned with great pride that a viewer said he couldn’t tell if she was a Democrat or Republican. Calling out her fairness is like a patient commending a doctor for washing his hands.

At TheSocReports, we furnish weekly social media analytics to help journalists (and other personal brands) avoid the slippery slope of political sarcasm and other social media sins.

Learn more about what we do here: https://www.thesocreports.com/

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