Crisis for ‘priesthood’ will pass |

Crisis for ‘priesthood’ will pass

Don Rogers

It’s an old debate now, though sharpened with each round of news about circulation and ratings losses for the “old” journalism purveyors in print and on the air waves.

Tell you what you need to know or what you want to know? The issue with the first is that we decide what’s necessary, not you. The latter means too often that we pander.

Just as with freedom of religion, freedom of the press also means freedom from the press. More and more people are taking that last option, it seems.

In the “new” media, I guess you are the news now ” the maker of some of it, anyway. So we’re told this is what the advent of blogging, personal Web pages, Wikis, commenting on some stories, writing your own and even editing someone else’s and all that means.

The danger then is you become more susceptible to gossip, the “truth” as seen by zealots, to information you only think is fact. Sure, it’s always been so. It’s just easier to find. What I do as a discipline, a profession with strict standards you may scoff at for the moment, has become more polluted.

Well, that’s one way to look at it.

That’s not quite how I see this, though. I like the cacophony, actually. Lots of ideas, lots of expression. Facts might be off, but with most, you can trust the author believes what he or she is writing.

Some of the stuff out there is inane but fun. The cult of barefoot running springs to mind. I see a whole philosophy here, and it’s no worse than something some so-smart-he’s-a-hopeless-idiot columnist at the hallowed New York Times comes up with.

Our waters are roiled, underwear in a knot and all that over the rise of new media. But I think it will find its level. I also think that trust will become a greater and greater part of readers’ choices.

If so, for most folks, including me, that means that there will continue to be a place for that fussy “old” journalism. You know, where facts are confirmed, writers aim to understand the issue or event as opposed to cheerleading or disavowing it. There’s a place for that too, of course. And now I have more places to look for perspective.

I guess that fundamentally I trust most readers ” I’m a newspaper guy, after all. I see our credibility rising as people think about what they need, and want, from journalism, real journalism. That in turn will mean they turn increasingly again to outlets that can be trusted in their processes and standards to scratch closest to the objective truth, that slippery eel.

We just need to keep the faith that people indeed seek truth at the end of the day. The priesthood will survive.

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