Journalism Ain’t what it Used to be


Journalism Ain’t what it Used to be

When I took journalism the goal was to communicate information to your readers. Facts not your opinion. The famous five "W’s" (Who What Where When Why) and the odd "H" (How).  Like this:

"When she told him she was leaving him, Larry killed Jane yesterday in the kitchen with a knife."

You then go on to expand on who they were, what the police said, quotes from neighbors, a description of the blood soaked kitchen, the kids left behind, and so forth. You leave your personal opinion that Larry was a cretin or Jane "deserved it" to yourself. Let your readers draw their own conclusions.

Today, however it would be written like this:

After years of abuse and discomfort with the relationship, Jane decided to leave Larry and seek a more gentle and tolerant life. Hearing this, Larry tore into a rage and using all the strength he could muster, ripped the life from poor Jane yesterday, using a knife usually relegated to gutting game and leaving their cozy kitchen looking like an abattoir.

Well, we certainly know a lot about how the writer felt about Larry. and also poor Jane.

Did the writer talk to neighbors and friends? Did he leave out the part the Jane had been living with Charlie for the past six months and was threatening Larry with taking the kids. Did he add that Larry had just lost his job, had found out he was dying of cancer, and also that Jane and Larry’s last child was Charlie’s?

Not that Jane "deserved" to die –our fearless reporter didn’t tell the entire story. He edited it because he was horrified by the carnage he saw. He let his person feelings and emotion take over.

Now how about real life:

Compare these two articles — you may have to "log on" to the Washington Post article but its worth it.  Washington Post hereLos Angeles Times here

Note how the WaPo story didn’t use words like "defiled" and "desecrated" in its lead or headline, but the LA TImes article used these words in their headline and sub head. Also note how WaPo said the urine "inadvertently sprayed" but the Times article said "splashed on a prisoner." When you get the facts, the urine incident was completely innocent.

If you read the first two graphs (that’s hard core news talk for paragraphs) of the WaPo story, you get a sense of what happened without feeling one way or the other. If you read first two graphs of the LA Times story you could be quickly outraged at the activities of our military. You have to turn to page A14, 36 inches later to get the facts in the Times Article.

The Times’ editor would say that all the facts are there for anyone reading the entire article. However they slanted the story so that readers, that’s most of us, who peruse only the first half of most articles, would get the Times’ spin.

I don’t hold with the WaPo’s political bent. However it does a much better job at straight news reporting than the Times on this story.

Its cases like this that confirm the bias that is creeping into our media, whether its an unsubstantiated and unproven article in Newsweek, a forged Air National Guard memo on 60 minutes, or the constant references to the President’s quote about "imminent threat" — which by the way, he never said.

Our journalists need to get back to reporting news, not making it.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. I thought I was the only one who felt similiar about certain news reporting. You have just decribed the frustration that I feel when I watch the news or pick up a newspaper.
    Since the FCC and certain goverment officials have gone up in arms about indecency laws in radio and tv cable programming, maybe they should do the same towards media companies who report anything other than honest truth.
    Lets just hope this blog doesn’t come accross any LA Times reporters, can you imagine what they would print about the parking industry?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Only show results from:

Recent Posts

A Note from a Friend

I received this from John Clancy. Now retired, John worked in the technology side of the industry for decades. I don’t think this needs any

Read More »

Look out the Window

If there is any advice I can give it’s concerning the passing scene. “Look out the window.” Rather than listen to CNN or the New

Read More »


Send message to

    We use cookies to monitor our website and support our customers. View our Privacy Policy