Dilute The News At Your Own Risk (And The Nation’s Peril)

by | Dec 24, 2006

Peter Kann made a list of 10 disturbing trends in mass media today. Kann is chairman of Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Here are two that stand out for me:

  • The blurring of lines between news and opinion. Newspapers have a format that helps maintain the distinction. The Internet, TV and most magazines have neither that format nor that tradition. The result is a blending of news and views. The two are not ingredients to mix together for a tastier meal, they are different courses. Part of the problem here lies in fashionable new philosophies that argue there are no basic values of right and wrong, that news is merely a matter of views. It’s a dangerous philosophy for our society and a dagger at the heart of genuine journalism.
  • The blending of news and advertising, sponsorships or other commercial relationships. The resulting porridges may be called “advertorials” or “infomercials”; they may be special sections masquerading as news, news pages driven by commercial interests, or Web pages where everything somehow is selling something. Without clear distinctions between news and advertising, readers or viewers lose confidence in the veracity of a news medium. And advertisers lose the business benefit of an environment of trust.

Clearly, Mr. Kann is a purist. And there aren’t many of those left in our mashup culture.