The 24-Hour News Cycle and Sloppy Journalism

I just found out that Logan/Cache Valley made the list of top 50 places in the country to start a business. At least CNN Money thinks that Logan is a good place to go to launch a business. Logan is categorized as a small city. Now, if only CNN Money showed some interest in fact checking. As of this writing (perhaps the mistake will be rectified when some editor decides it should be done), the U of U is described as boosting Cache Valley’s business profile with its “standout engineering program.” Perhaps the U does have a standout program. But I think that Utah State University’s program is better. And USU is, in fact, located here in Logan. While the U of U is located in Salt Lake City (which did not make the list).

Which brings me to a standing annoyance I have with the 24-hour news cycle and the fact the Internet, though an awesome source of information if you are discerning, has contributed to a certain sloppiness in journalism. As news increasingly becomes “infotainment” catering to increasing ad sales and revenue, and as news outlets compete to churn out a volume of content to remain relevant and competitive, standards are slipping. Truth to tell, standards have been slipping for years, ever since news became business, rather than, well, news.

Now, I understand that people make mistakes. We all do. However, it used to be that news organizations had fact checkers and others who went through and looked for glaring errors, such as confusing the name of the main university in a small city. When I was earning my M.A. at Syracuse University, if I had made such a mistake, or misspelled someone’s name, or incorrectly identified something in an assignment article, I would have received an F for that entire assignment. No matter how well it was written.

Unfortunately, such rigorous standards are not often applied in the real world. Journalism is rapidly becoming little more than punditry, and everyone wants to write opinion pieces so that they can say whatever they want, without having to worry about such troublesome things as facts. I know that I do express my opinion. It’s what a blog is for. But I never for a minute confuse my (informed, I think) opinions on my blog for true journalism. Although some of them come pretty close…

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