September 18, 2008

The sad state of U.S. journalism

I have wondered how journalism has sunk to such a sad state. I had considered many possibilities, but most of them centered around the fact that the journalists had an agenda. But perhaps the greatest blame for journalistic laxity should be placed on the educational institutions that are putting out such gems as Briana Monasky who wrote the following about Gov. Sarah Palin's nomination:

I should be incredibly proud to finally see a woman on the stage. Instead, I am ashamed that my country is letting her run. When I hear that women are pro-life I simply don't understand. Beyond that, as a victim of sexual assault I consider it devastating to think that a woman may have to carry a child to term conceived from an act of hate. I hope her dad rapes her and she has to carry that child to term. I bet you she wouldn't. I bet she'd grab a coat hanger herself and take care of it.

Briana Monasky |Email| writes for the State Hornet, California State University's newspaper. You may read the full article here.

After people began responding to her journalistic tirade, Briana defended her statements with this:

Words are powerful. Believe me, I get it. I am a journalism major with a capital 'J.' However, to think that in any way, shape or form I could actually literally mean harm upon Sarah Palin is ridiculous. Were you joking with all of these comments and letters? You had to be. No one could really think I would mean that, right? Apparently not. Apparently I need to clarify what I meant.

As the sister of a stand-up comedian, I think vulgarity can be useful to demonstrate a point, whether it be humorous or shocking. In this case, I was simply saying that Palin, under a tragic circumstance such as rape, and worse, the incestuous variety, would not choose to carry the child to term. Did it come across well in the piece? Absolutely not. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

So this journalist "with a capital 'J'" is such a poor communicator that she has to explain her lack of journalistic integrity while at the same time defending her original indefensible statement.

If you would like to combat the rapidly declining state of journalistic integrity, check out Spin Spotter. Spin Spotter currently works only on the FireFox web browser, but software is being developed for Internet Explorer as well. Spin Spotter loads a menu bar on your web browser that allows you to flag journalistic spin in news articles. It even offers the opportunity for you to identify what type of spin is being used (lack of balance, presenting opinions not born of the facts of the story, etc.) and to rewrite it if you are so inclined. After you have done this, other users of Spin Spotter will be alerted to the potential journalistic spin and will be able to read the edits you are proposing. It's pretty cool software, and I think it is something we really need today.

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