We opine, you decide

We opine, you decide
: Ryan Pitts points us to a thoughtful (yes!) Bill O’Reilly column on the dawn of opinionated news in America:

But the new era of instant information rendered Brinkley and many other broadcast veterans almost powerless. No longer is the American public a captive audience, and no longer will the folks settle for an expressionless recitation of the news. With the advent of the Internet and round-the-clock cable news, the audience quickly knows the basic facts of a story. But often, along with those facts come instant spin and contradiction. Informational fog develops, leaving busy Americans in need of context.

They want to know how the journalists they trust feel about things important to their lives. The news consumer is almost desperate for someone to define the truth.

Thus, the good old days when the Brinkleys and Cronkites could simply introduce stories in measured tones are coming to an end. The audience for dispassionate news is shrinking, and the demand for passionate reporting and analysis is on the rise.

This, I have been arguing, is precisely the lesson of the success of both FoxNews and weblogs: The audience does want opinons — or at least to know what the presenters’ opinions are. The audience wants compelling, not dull, news. The audience will think for itself and isn’t afraid of opinions. O’Reilly himself is the proof.

  • http://spleenville.com/ Andrea Harris

    “journalists they trust” — what’s that?

  • http://billscontent.com/weblog.php Bill Dennis

    Blech.
    I’ve been fighting this attitude for years.
    I still think that the drive to let journalists express their opinions in their reporting has more to do with their egos than any real belief it improves the reporting.
    I still think a property trained reporter can cover the news faily and objectively (now there’s a dirty word) without being a mouthpiece for government.
    I’ve seen too many times where a newspaper lost credibility because some reporter thought an issue was just too important to deny his/her readers the benefit of his/her opinion. JOurnalists are usually deluding themselves when they think their position gives them greater wisdom or insight on an issue.
    Once you are identified as a being a proponent on any side of a controversy (whether in a small town or in Washington D.C.) your credibility is shot.

  • http://www.hfienberg.com/kesher/ Yehudit

    I agree with Bill. At this point the problem is not enough “just the facts, Ma’am” dull news. Every reporter seems to put their spin on every situation and it’s hard to find out what the facts actually are.
    “. . . . without being a mouthpiece for government. ”
    Or any ideology either.

  • http://www.sp3ctator.blogspot.com Joel Mackey

    You get Journalist’s opinions regardless of how objective they report a story. The mere fact that they report a story over all the other stories is thier opinion. For example, CNN focused on the Rawanda tragedy back in the early 90’s, no matter how objective thier reports, the number of minutes they spent broadcasting the reports, as opposed say campaign finance reform, or national healthcare, or any of a billion other stories is thier opinion about what is important.
    So spare us the straw man of being objective, and give us the back story that supports the journalists opinion about what is important and why. I will decide whether its important enough to me, by tuning in or out. Just as Fox says, you report, I decide…

  • http://billscontent.com/weblog.php Bill Dennis

    The story is what the reporter heard and saw, related accurately. The definition of what is newsworthy is fairly straightforward. The only people who froth at the mouth over story selection as evidence of bias are those who object to the reporting of facts that do not support their OWN biases.
    Take it from one who actuually earned a paycheck or two in the business. It is possible to be an objective reporter. The problem with journalist today is that there are too few people working in the business are not objective because it requires harder work.
    The real “straw man” is any reporter who thinks a “disclaimer” about his biases excuses slanting his reporting to fit his agenda.
    A “disclaimer” will not make readers trust reporting. Readers who want to disbelieve reporting that is inconvenient to their world view will do so. The best solution is to be fair and complete and give the nay-sayers nothing legitimate to complain about.

  • http://www.dimn.blogspot.com Andrew | BYTE BACK

    The mere fact that they report a story over all the other stories is their opinion.
    That’s just your own opinion – and wrong. Dennis works or has worked, as I do, in the media as a reporter. It is possible. It is a worthy goal. It is a goal that has been subverted because of money. Just because it earns more money doesn’t make it better journalism. Or would you disagree?
    Besides, the beef on Fox is that they continue to portray themselves as Fair and BALANCED. O’Reilly doesn’t like that. So he should leave. Except, of course, there’s no effort for BALANCED, which would by definition be unfair.