Bad Journalistic Habits

James Fallows offers a list of habits in the world of journalism that impede the ability of reporters and news organizations to offer the socially beneficial coverage that they should be publishing. Although he lists 12 habits, they can really be grouped together as follows:

Looking Where the Light Is, Being versus Doing, Measure What Can Be Measured, and Prediction Rather Than Assessment all play well with the journalism as a profit-making venture by maximizing volume for minimal costs. The downside to this is that they all have the effect of serving up less substance for consumers so that they can make educated decisions about the situations they face.

In Over Our Heads, and Amortizing Investments lead toward the aggrandizement of the reporter over the events. As reporters gain name recognition and reputation they often turn to Empowerment by Attitude to compensate for the fact that their celebrity does not translate into any actual authority.

Playing the Game, None of it Really Matters, No Conflict, No News, “The Road to the Final Four”, and Flattening of Events all work in direct contradiction to the perspective that reporting should provide. Rather than helping people to understand what is most important and how various things relate to each other, news items are treated like a flavor of the month (or moment) as if no item in the news had any objective importance. This leads to a cynical and disengaged society. Disengagement fosters breakdown. In other words, not only is this not helpful, it is actually destructive of the fabric of society.