John Palumbo, head of Rhode Island Monthly, waxed nostalgic in a recent post in Folio.
“My journalism advisor in college was a crusty seasoned newspaper guy who had retired to academia. Often, when reviewing classwork, he would look over his reading glasses at me, intimidating as hell, and say something like, ‘Journalism is about the truth, Palumbo. Not humor, not entertainment, just the plain facts in a logical and informative manner. That’s it. So re-write the lede with that in mind — or else.’”
“I can only imagine having that same discussion in today’s media world, where what’s real in journalism is as highly sought as the Loch Ness Monster,” Palumbo continues. “Where advertising and content share a foggy line of demarcation in many channels of information delivery. A world where if you didn’t like the headline or posturing, you simply accuse the fourth estate of lying and create your own. Brave new world, my friends.”
Brave new world indeed. The massive amount of mistrust in the media, while having political overtones to be sure, was largely a self-inflicted wound brought on by a quest for eyeballs via native ads and social popularity.
The good news – and we share Palumbo’s thinking on this – is perhaps this current war on fake news will spark a renaissance of the trade.
“One has to wonder (and this is meant as a nonpartisan observation) if the animosity toward the press expressed by the leader of the free world might have a ripple effect for years to come on journalism school enrollment — positive or negative. It certainly has sparked a recovery of sorts for the Times, the Post, and many more,” he notes.
For Palumbo, the solution comes down to simply journalistic integrity. “First and foremost, on both sides of the equation, always tell the truth. Don’t sensationalize for a client or for Facebook likes. Don’t become susceptible to provocative click bait headlines.”
As media brands recognize how important reader trust truly is, we may indeed be seeing the pendulum swinging back to good old fashioned journalism.