Mark Twain in popularising the phrase “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” way back in 1906 obviously didn’t envisage a time when we would be lied to on a daily basis by the media.
Now when I say ‘lied to’ and ‘media’ I am not proposing that all news agency CEO’s or Editors are akin to the loosely based characterisation of Ruport Murdoch and Robert Maxwell, in the bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, played by the brilliant Jonathan Pryce I might add. But I am saying that what used to pass for fact based news has been replaced by something somewhat insidious.
It seems as though the news these days, especially in respect of the health of the economy or the housing market is as accurate and planned as deciding red or black on the roulette wheel. How can Monday produce news that the housing market is in peril, only for Tuesday to announce that the housing market is better than the last couple of years, for Wednesday to pull it back into the doldrums? If the news was actually news then surely it would be based on fact and bare a passing resemblance to events actually occurring and not (as is more often the case now), news is now mere ‘opinion’.
It seems that the news isn’t so much news anymore as baseless opinion and filler to pad out the paper or news website with enough pages to contain all the adverts, and some news websites manage to make this an art form by not even generating their own filler anymore, but recycling news/filler from other websites. Some may say that this is the DailyMail?
I want to open the paper or go online and read what’s happening in the world. I want to see how the economy is actually doing and what my business and my clients’ businesses can expect in the future. I want to read about current affairs and human interest pieces. And when it comes to business news I go to the likes of Mashable for Tech news, or the old and trusted BBC. In part, this is why I like Business Zone after reading it for some time. There are editorial pieces from respected business leaders and blogs from SME owners and managers whose fingers are far more on the pulse when it comes to the reality of the economy than some anonymous DailyMail reporter.
Another annoyance and a practice both lazy and insidious in equal measure are the constant references to reactions on Twitter. Twitter is basically the modern day equivalent of saying ‘man on the street’, which shouldn’t really have a place in fact based news reporting.
Why is it now acceptable for news agencies to report what some village idiot, (who doesn’t even use their real name) thinks about any given topic? Isn’t this basically just facilitating large scale gossiping?
If the person being quoted on the economy was Robert Peston or a CEO of a major company then fair enough, but some random Tweeter who for all we know is a 15 year old, whose opinion you wouldn’t value getting the spotlight only serves to dumb down news and media further does it not.
Bit by bit it seems the standards of reporting and editing news are slowly but surely slipping and the direction it’s headed in cant be healthy. Can it?