Media coverage of your favourite issue
This post might upset a whole bunch of you. I am okay with that.
My social media feed on an almost weekly basis fills up with outraged posts about mainstream media not covering issue X. Stop doing that because most of the time it’s not true. It hasn’t been true with the Muskrat Falls development in Labrador, it hasn’t been true with the refugee crisis, and it’s not true with the Dakota Access Pipeline. So please stop saying that kind of stuff because you become the problem every time you say it. There is lots of coverage of any given issue. For the sake of the argument, I am going to post stuff that is in my news feed TODAY on Dakota Access Pipeline and the protests surrounding it (I could do the same with climate change, refugees, you name it):
- There is a really interesting map on the front page of online New York Times this morning that does a good job of giving us the sense of geography and it outlines some of the concerns.
- NPR has a good story on the woman injured in the protest earlier this week who may lose her arm.
- CBC’s Unreserved has a fantastic set of stories on Standing Rock.
- Vogue (VOGUE!!!) has a story and a photo essay by no other than Alessandra Sanguinetti on Standing Rock.
- Independent podcaster Scott Carrier, formerly of NPR, has the first episode in a multi-part series on Standing Rock on air.
- The Guardian also has a story today on Standing Rock.
- So does the Toronto Star.
- And while I was writing this, somebody reposted this story by Magnum’s Larry Towell I had posted some time ago.
So please stop it. You are all smarter than that. Please stop saying that mainstream media is not covering your favourite issue of the day. They are. They are also covering a whole bunch of other stuff that is just as important (like deforestation in Borneo, or migrant and refugee crisis, or the latest developments in Kurdistan). If you think the coverage of whatever issue you care about is biased or incomplete, than engage with those stories and journalists. Provide facts in your comments, suggest sources that would make the story better, offer your own expertise if you have it. Vast majority of today’s journalists can be reached through comments or social media. It’s really, really easy to help them correct a mistake or make their stories better.
There are a lot of problems with today’s media industry. They need to figure out a whole bunch of things. You telling them they are not doing their jobs when THEY CLEARLY ARE is not helping. Once independent, professional journalism is gone, you are not going to get it back. Your favourite site that posts unedited and out of context phone videos on social media, or an individual who thinks it’s cool to post a 47 years old photo and claim that the media is not properly covering an event, are not going to be an adequate replacement for thoughtful coverage of complex issues. Whether you like it or not, thoughtful, in-depth coverage requires significant resources, multitude of skills, structures, and editorial oversight. There are some interesting funding models that make that possible outside of a typical corporate structure – crowdfunding, voluntary subscriptions, paywalls, collaborations with public agencies or not-for profits, co-ops, social enterprise models and so on. Not a single one of these or all of them taken together can, at this point, replace the resources, the reach, the depth, and the skill that the New York Times, the Star, CBC, or the Guardian can bring to covering an issue. So let’s help journalists and reporters do their jobs better while they are trying to do a heck of a lot more with a heck of a lot less then ever before.
Also, if you want independent, long-form journalism in Atlantic Canada you can support The Deep and their crowdfunding campaign right here.
The photograph is from a recent protest against Muskrat Falls hydro development project in front of the Colonial Building in St. John’s, NL.