Modern Journalism – Ready, Set, Panic.

Posted on December 21, 2013

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The recent ‘The global wine drought that never was’ saga highlights the continued trend for headline skinning, sensationalism that drives so much disinformation in our internet and always on information age.

A curse of our digital age and its flow of information, or veritable flood, is the losing of oneself into the system itself. Of becoming just part of the plumbing, a sound box, a mannequin that absorbs and critiques less, iterating verbatim with little discernable value. The lesson from this in our information saturated lives is to keep oneself disciplined, honest and aware and not fall foul of the temptation to ‘cut and paste’ sensationalised headlines and succumb to the manipulative rat runs of information distraction  that are woven across our paths everyday online and or mobile app.

The very human element of information exchange is the contribution we each and every one of us can bring to it, through our own insights and experiences, our own views and opinions, our contributions to the theme that preen, prune and pass on as a fair value exchange, raising not lowering the quality of information we share. That we can take pride and enjoyment in the process is all part of the discourse that has the added benefit of keeping independence of thought fit, and journalism honest. If it was not for this healthy questioning and absorption of a subject, headlines such as ‘The Wine drought’ would have gone unchecked as fact when it was little more than an example of how manipulative agendas can take advantage of lazy journalistic behaviour and headline skimming readerships. In this instance it has been exposed and lambasted for the poor journalism that it is, spawned from some very selective statistical statements used by an organisation with an agenda to peddle.

Reflect for a moment on the trust traditional networks are founded on. Not the Kudos pumping social media networks, but those networks of individuals you really call friends and colleagues. That trust is built on credibility and a value add appraisal into what is called a trust chain on subjects, references and recommendations we exchange. Each link we place in our trust chain is only as strong as the next, and if we are to hold ourselves out as trustworthy it is each individual’s duty to the best of their ability to scrutinise the links they put in their chain. For if you judge one link wanting, it places every link before it in question. Do not misinterpret this ‘want’ as a divergence of opinion, which is all part of a rich discourse, to ‘find wanting’ means to decide or be judged as deficient or lacking.

If we are to master the fickle nature of today’s online information exchanges and avoid fomenting shallow pools of trust and short chains or reliability, we could do worse than reflect on words from an earlier information age – The Elephant’s Child’
by Rudyard Kipling:

I keep six honest serving-men

They taught me all I knew;

Their names are

What and why and when

And how and where and who.

So next time you are tempted to just blather a headline into your social media ‘soundbox’ as one of the whispering masses, or commit the worse sin of journalism and put name to no more than an iterating of another’s article, apply your own sanity filter and step into your own spotlight. You will surprise yourself…….. better to rise or fall on your own merits is it not?

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