COLUMN: It’s more than just the end of the World

If media reports are to be believed – and, trust me, that’s a momentous qualifier – the death this week of a long-viable newspaper was a direct result of journalistic corruption.

Lance PEVERLEY

Black Press

If media reports are to be believed – and, trust me, that’s a momentous qualifier – the death this week of a long-viable newspaper was a direct result of journalistic corruption.

But perhaps after our collective attention is diverted to the United Kingdom to witness the stench of scandal surrounding a not-soon-forgotten fish wrap, we’ll one day realize the decay suffered the world of journalism over, and not just because of sleaze and hubris.

News of the World ceased to be last weekend, after 168 years of reporting equal amounts of muck and rake in London. What began as an inexpensive, working-class broadsheet in 1843 ended Sunday – at the behest of Aussie media-emperor Rupert Murdoch – as one of the trashiest, if not cheapest, tabloids.

Owner of various newspapers, TV stations and film conglomerates on three continents, Murdoch slyly and swiftly announced the end of the World last week, as a political firestorm swept the U.K. with revelations that his so-called journalists hacked the voicemail of a missing teenager, who was later found to have been murdered.

For years, it’s been known the phones and computers of politicians, athletes, royals and other celebrities have been hacked for news articles. But when it became apparent victims of crime were even further victimized, it became all too much for Murdoch’s discerning readership? Right…

Now, the scandal is threatening to implicate not only the staff and management of the World and other publications, but government and police officials as well. Talk about a right kerfuffle.

However, to those who believe Murdoch’s decision to cease publication was anything other than a premeditated, methodical financial decision, perhaps you shouldn’t believe everything you read.

Journalism is in a state of flux. The Internet, the economy and public awareness all play a role.

While many have written in recent years that print news is dying, it should be noted that TV and radio news are also suffering – greatly.

In an attempt to retain their audiences with tighter budgets and more restrictive staffing, many news publications and broadcasters have reinvented themselves in the way they report what they purport to be news. Some opt for sleaze, others pander to potential advertisers and a great number choose to entertain rather than inform.

Some take up precious news space and time to inform their readers or viewers just how venerable and viable they truly are.

Others editorialize with impunity (sometimes because of personal bias; nearly always because of profit). And a great many ignore the world around them while focusing on whatever social or sporting event happens to make news easy to gather – all under the semblance of simply reporting what their audience wants.

I have to wonder just how much is gained in this evolution – and how much is lost.

Is there a solution? Absolutely. And for anybody with access to the Internet, it’s at your fingertips. I suggest maintaining your own quality control on your news sources. Read from an increasing variety of sources. And read often. And when you find a source that appears to be objective and informative, embrace it. If you think you’re being misled or you’re wasting your time, move on to the next source.

There’s good news out there. It’s your job to find it.

But don’t take my word for it.

Lance Peverley is editor of the Peace Arch News.

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