Weak Reporting

“I read the news today, oh boy,
About a luck man who made the grade.
 And though the news was rather sad,
 Well, I just had to laugh…”

I know you are completing the lyrics to the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” in your mind right now…. BUT….

…suddenly this post decays into a recitation of Twitter and/or Facebook comments about the man who “blew his mind out in a car” and “didn’t notice that the lights had changed” that I simply use to fill space. It doesn’t maintain a strong voice. It degrades into weak reporting. The reporter reveals a weak voice, pads the article with comments culled from Internet posts (often set diametrically to give alternative viewpoints), and gives into the pressures of deadline.

Instead of taking the opportunity to contact people — people within the community within the geographic location involved with subject of the article — the reporter peruses Twitter, Facebook, or some other online multiverse and allows someone else’s comment to become the voice of the reporter. A good reporter can weave others’ responses to interview questions into an article and not lose the his or her voice. A weak reporter allows his or her voice to be supplanted by the posted comments of the Internet multiverse.

It is happening more and more often. I am sure you have read the news recently and said, “Oh boy… this article goes no where.” News agencies should demand more of reporters. Readers should demand more of reporters. Reporters should demand more of themselves. Very simply, if the reporter resorts to reciting online social comments, he or she has not dug deep enough. The reporter has not done his or her job.

The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” was largely written by John Lennon as he culled headlines from the news of the day. There’s more depth to “A Day in the Life” (which in my opinion is the Beatles’ magnum opus) than to the shallow, cynical comments of the relatively anonymous online post. Had Lennon simply recited the news AND the news been comprised of online comments, we might have read that a crowd of online anonimati was “not really sure if it was the singer Lorde.”

And who knows where a slow news day would have taken that one.


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