04.08.2015 07:47 AM

The power of journalism, and Walter Scott

Growing up, I just wanted to be a reporter. That’s all. I started my own newspaper when I was nine; I worked at them all through elementary school, junior high school, high school, university and the Bar Admission course. I’ve been a reporter at the Ottawa Citizen and the The Calgary Herald, and a columnist at the National Post, the Citizen and the Sun papers. I loved to read them, I loved to write for them. I even loved the smell of them.

They’re dying, of course, mainly because the ways in which we receive information has so fundamentally changed – and because journalists usually aren’t very good at running businesses. But that doesn’t mean that bloggers, or social media enthusiasts, are going to ever supplant real journalists. Bloggers and the like, as I’ve said many times, merely comment on the work of real reporters. They don’t have the resources or the skills to do what journalists do.

The front page of today’s New York Times, below, does what journalism is supposed to do: it points out something that is important, and forces us to consider it – and, ideally, change the way we do things.

What happened to Walter Scott, as I wrote below, was indisputably murder. And the front page of today’s New York Times is indisputably journalism.

NYTScottMurder

20 Comments

  1. Priyesh says:

    Real reporters told us Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and ignored the impending financial collapse. On the two most important issues of the past decade, they failed. They merely commented.

    In this case, shouldn’t we be singing the praises of one amateur with a camera?

  2. doconnor says:

    I don’t see anything a blogger couldn’t do. They describe a video provided to them, give some obvious background, quote some publicly available stats, quote another newspaper, and get a quote from the family.

    Maybe the work would be spread across two or three bloggers, each adding to the story (the article lists two authors and no doubt many more news paper staffers helped).

    The real point is how a citizen can trigger a major news story and a great injustice with their cell phone and it is an excellent example of how newspapers are no longer needed.

  3. Kelly says:

    I agree with your observations, Warren, but it wasn’t The Times that shot the video. The news has been disintermediated. And although some journalism in the mainstream press has undoubtedly been fair and balanced, the establishment point of view frames everything. Bloggers can help unpack biases (as well as layer them on thick, of course.) Too many questions are never asked.

  4. gyor says:

    Warren you underestimate citizen journalism.

  5. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    Too horrible for words. Damn it, black lives matter.

  6. Lance says:

    Pretty much every time I read a Lance comment

    Well, you said it Howard, not me.

    Are we done here? Yes, I think we are.

    • Howard Moon says:

      Someone had to say it. Lance you bore people into a stupor and could use a bit of humility

      • Lance says:

        🙂 LOL Oh that is rich, considering your moniker’s namesake; a purveyor of “humility”, you are most certainly not, so you really have nothing to teach regarding it. Stupor, on the other hand? Down pat.

        *Waving hand dismissively* Anyway………………

        Warren, I agree that hard journalism will not be wholly supplanted by bloggers, for all the reasons you’ve cited. But journalism as a profession has taken a hit the last 20 years, and doesn’t stand under the same scrutiny as well as it once has. Bloggers have often kept their feet to that fire. I also find it amazing how easily breaking it down into a mere 140 Twitter characters can shake things up.

  7. Africon says:

    A disgusting and horrific display of amoral, stupidity and presumably a lack of self-control.

    That pathetic attempt to reconstruct “evidence” also speaks volumes about the kinds of people who are attracted to and allowed to enter the police service.
    Cannot help but wonder if the sight of an African-American in a Mercedes Benz is what got him started on this insanity.
    Like that crazy German pilot, he took down an entire public service. Selfish pea brained, pigmy shit.

    As for the power of journalism, look at how long it took some “reputable” Media to get the Ferguson story correct.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/03/16/lesson-learned-from-the-shooting-of-michael-brown/

    “Group think” is a very powerful force.

  8. Jonas B. says:

    Troubling questions: Why did Scott grab at the officer’s taser and why did he then run from the scene of the arrest? Did he panic and ran, or was there something more to be known before we jump to conclusions. What was the state of mind of the officer; was he stressed out and that caused him to act irrationally? At the trial, defence attorneys will bring such issues up.

    I’m not justifying the brazen shooting, but before he is found guilty of murder, all the facts must be determined and considered. That’s how justice works in our democratic society and mob justice is not the answer. Good journalism shouldn’t inflame only explain.

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