Sadly, the decline of newspapers continues. I learned from an award-winning photographer who was just laid off that editors are asking reporters to use their i-Phone cameras to cover stories. A newspaper in New Jersey is now skipping proofreading editors, thus laying off proofreaders, and reporters filings are going straight to the web page, unchecked. A newspaper in Detroit recently posted a Page One photo of a well-known figure, only it was his brother! Experienced journalists are being laid off and replaced with inexperienced journalists to save money.
Filling the void of these lost professionals are slanderous and unethical bloggers with agendas and no journalistic education. Without being vetted, they are often employed as freelancers by newspapers and are used as reliable journalists. It is common that these bloggers never bother to contact the person they are writing about, have no proof, and have no second or third sources, a mandatory journalistic practice. They just make things up, and when it hits the internet, it goes on record as fact. Then Wikipedia judges accept all of it as fact even when it destroys innocent people. The New York Times recently reported on these practices and how widespread they are becoming.
Make no mistake, there are many journalists, bloggers, and editors who maintain a high standard of journalistic professionalism. Every day they fight against the tide of gossip and misinformation disguised as news. They diligently maintain the separation of facts and opinion to keep their profession honest. They cannot win, however, if their employers continue to lay them off and replace them with those less skilled and less ethical. When will newspaper managements, on the whole, stand up against this tide themselves and keep quality as their professional goal? When will they realize that they are destroying the product that they claim to be trying to save?
An unemployed journalist friend who I hold in highest regard told me recently that it is all over, they just haven’t closed the doors yet. Perhaps he is right. The only way I can tell this story is here on Facebook.