The thing about “professional” journalists and the disruption created by the Internet is that “professional” journalists continually bemoan the destruction of their trade by untrained citizen journalists, aka bloggers. Journalism has always benefited the elite of the community. It has always been the individuals with money, that have driven what you get to know about and what is kept hidden from you. Unfortunately, the news outlets controlled the airwaves and thus they were allowed to create the illusion that they worked for the viewers and listeners instead of those funding them.
Take for example Brian Williams, the latest example of the “professional” journalist exposed for what he really is – a liar. As you know, Brian Williams has been suspended by NBC for six months for lying about a helicopter crash for many years. Since the lie was exposed, other questions about other statements made by Williams have come under scrutiny, including whether he was actually in Germany when the Berlin wall came down or whether he was with Seal Team Six during the Baghdad invasion. (I have already documented six lies uttered by Williams. You can see them on my Twitter feed under #brianlies hashtag.)
On April 4, 2007, Brian William lectured journalism students at NYU. According to a report of the event posted at the NYU Bullpen website by Kristen O’Gorman, Williams made a few statements about the rise of citizen journalists.
According to O’Gorman, Williams stated, “You’re going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe.” Williams then goes to state, “All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency in two years.” According to O’Gorman, Brian Williams was worried about the “explosion of opinion-driven amateur media” that would distract the public.
This is the same individual that has been proven to lie to the viewers for many years and is likely to have lied about other newsworthy events to embellish his “professional” credentials.
One of the things that drives my blogging is the hypocrisy I witness all around me. As such, I am not at all surprised at the other quotes attributed to Williams by O’Gorman. “On the Internet, no one knows if you’ve been to Ramadi or you’ve just been to Brooklyn and have an opinion about Ramadi.” This, from Williams who didn’t know the difference between being on a helicopter that was shot down by an RPG; or the one that arrived after the incident.
Unfortunately, Brian Williams is not the only one, there are some that have been exposed and many more that are yet to be exposed. This reality brings us back to how “professional” journalists have been able to keep the illusion that they served the truth going for so long.
Their voices were so magnified that anyone challenging the assertion that journalists were nothing more than public relations machines for elitist public policy drivers were drowned out and marginalized. Journalists had built the mystic that they are honest historians delivering the news to you.
In fact, for the most part, they have been nothing more than mouthpieces for those that could pay to control what you were allowed to know. Their awards and accolades were created to promote the illusion. Unfortunately, for them the carefully crafted illusion began to crumble around them as soon as the Internet became a viable mass-delivery vehicle of information.
The Internet gave rise to the citizen reporters. The people who want to express their personal perspective of the various issues and events that frame the human experience. Since then, the news machines have been on a downward spiral trying everything they can to remain relevant.
Net neutrality has been framed as an issue of equal access to technology, however it is much more than that, it is about the unimpeded access to unfiltered information. The companies arguing for control of the speed of the Internet are the same conglomerates that benefit by controlling who or what you are allowed to know about. They fear the citizen reporter – therefore are looking for ways to silence them.
Yes, I am suggesting that citizen reporters are much better at giving you the unvarnished truth even though many of us have our own biases and agendas. As many of you know, I consistently point out the bloggers that serve their masters. That is exactly why citizen reporters are the future of the news business.
Ultimately, you, the news consumer is the best judge to understand and digest the news of the day. The more viewpoints delivered to you the better understanding you can attain. Ultimately, as with everything else, it is your responsibility to separate the news from the misinformation. Unfiltered news is what should be creating the historical record, not the digested and filtered news that the various agenda drivers want you to see.
Next time you hear or read a “professional” newsperson bemoan the citizen reporters consider the source.