Journalism’s delivery system, not the coverage itself, is broken – Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review believes that Journalism’s delivery system, not the coverage itself, is broken.

Let me make this point through an analogy. A trial usually consists two competing legal arguments, both grounded in facts, otherwise known as evidence. What if technology suddenly allowed 50 different lawyers to present competing narratives to the jury? And what if evidence requirements were eliminated, such that some of the lawyers presented their arguments based on traditional evidentiary standards, while others felt liberated to make things up. Would we blame the jury members if they were unable to render an informed verdict?

This analogy seems plausible on the surface, but the evidence requirements part is where it falls apart. During a trial lawyers present all kinds of evidence, including some that may or may not be true. When that happens and when that untruth is detected we don’t blame the court, we blame the lawyers who presented it. Those lawyers may face civil penalties as well as penalties from their bar association both of which will affect their ability to continue to work in law.

So I offer an alternative opinion: Journalism is broken, period. It missed the transition from a heavily-controlled trickle of information via print, television and radio to an uncontrolled torrent that the end-user gets to filter. Journalists are no longer in charge of determining what’s true and false, we are. If anything, the delivery system has never worked better in human history.

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