Dan, I can’t of course speak for any journalist, let alone any industry. Prof. Schudson’s quote about journalism being a social construct comes to mind. I have worked in TV news for several brands for a considerable number of years and now teach it. Your words strike home, but I suspect my problem had I still been in the industry I’d be working to the news outlet’s policy, that memo. That doesn’t negate journalists lobbying their editor’s framework i.e. “don’t call it a lie, call it a being economical with the truth”, but…
You don’t need a PhD to know there’s something wrong, though I decided I wanted to look at news via this depth of research. Embedded conventions, political economy, behavioural science, political motives, an easy solution is weighted down by competing interests. That tier where the guardians of journalism reside, who promote its practices, guard its conventions and sometimes propositions that have mislabelled rules, such as Walter Lippmann’s ideas on objectivity misinterpreted, have so defined its boundaries it seems change is difficult.
I’m reminded of one of the most substantial, perhaps, publicised attempts at change brought to journalism occurring at the BBC. It was DG John Birt’s mission to explain. That was decades ago.
I spoke to Robert Drew. His idea of Cinéma vérité and that of Jean Rouch’s looked for something else — an art in journalism. They were considered outsiders by News folk. McLuhan referred to art as:
…precise advance knowledge of how to cope with the psychic and social consequences of the next technology…
Or for that matter next psychological onslaught. Could Cinéma vérité be rebooted? Could journalists be taught to locate and push back where they’e being duped, dead cats and squirrels n’ all? Could storytelling break free from conventions to surprise its hosts, to afflict the uncomfortable and more says Mencken. This is what journalism ought to be doing, but alas it slips quite often. It needs to find what it stands for if a new generation are to be the truthful ( difficult word) lens between the public and politicians, spokespeople and the rest.
I don’t have the answer, but as one of the first official videojournalists in the UK circa 1994, which itself has been reframed, I now teach something broader, influenced by aforementioned pioneers called Cinéma Journalism. It’s not an answer to the status quo, but strangely lets me call spade a spade.