Friday, July 19, 2013

Casual Fridays: Journalistic Conundrum

Before I begin, I would just like to state that the stuff you read on this blog doesn't remotely resemble journalism in any form. I try to keep people informed about Gigastrand stuff and share the things I like and care about. It is not journalism and neither are most blogs. Aslo, I have already used the work "journalism" 3 times in this paragraph so prepare yourself for a bit of over-use of this word. Let's begin....

I have recently began a journey to take it upon myself to learn more about current events. I am not sure where it stems from but it started with Jon Stewart.

Every once in a while I would watch the Daily Show after other shows I was actually watching on Comedy Central. Every once in a while it would be entertaining but I was rarely interested in the topics.

One day I discovered that talk radio keeps me interested and alert on the road and I continue to listen on the road today. NPR was doing a segment on journalistic integrity and mentioned Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as having journalistic integrity despite the fact that they host comedy shows.

I never thought of either show having journalistic integrity and began watching both with more zeal. I was  looking for evidence of journalism in comedy. They quote sources, back their claims up with facts, and, sure enough, those shows had more journalistic integrity than most news I have seen. Even though The Daily Show is presented with a great deal of comedy and Colbert Report is very tongue-in-cheek. 

I began looking for more shows and I remembered HBO had Real Time with Bill Maher. I began watching that as well.

The problem with all three shows is that while they are all present serious issues and follow some of the rules of journalistic integrity, they are rather slanted liberally and are at least as much entertainment as news. If you can get past those issues you can see the journalism come through.

The problem I have always had with Real Time was how it seemed like the far left leaning Bill brings on what feels like the "token Republican" to the panel to try and bring some sort of balance to the show. He does seem genuinely interested in the journalistic process but it seemed that he only pays lip-service to fair and balanced reporting. 

But he is an entertainer and it is his show and he can do as he pleases.

Then I discovered Vice on HBO. Vice is a half-hour program with reporters who actually report stories from all corners of the world. A truly excellent program that reaffirms the premise that Bill Maher does care about real journalism as he is the executive producer of the show.

These are all can't miss shows. All of these shows are more entertainment than true journalism - though Vice is VERY close. So, to help me sort through the entertainment factor, I find and patronize respected sources of news. I listen to NPR and watch PBS. 

Then I got to thinking. I pay the cable company $70 a month for cable that includes Comedy Central. I pay an extra $15 a month for HBO. I don't give NPR or PBS a dime.

WTF? How can I justify paying HBO for occasional for quasi-current event coverage (well, and some other shows/movies as well) and NOT pay PBS for real coverage they do every day? I will be giving to SDPB because I do not think it fair to pay for HBO with its excellent programming and NOT pay at least that much a month for Public Broadcasting.

So do you patronize PBS / NPR and not give? 


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