Journalism: A New Low

I recently saw an article online that asked whether readers were using toilet paper correctly.

No, not the ever-popular issue of whether the end of the paper goes under or over, but of the two ways to use toilet paper (scrunched or folded), which was better. No conclusion was reached, and surveys suggested that Americans are pretty evenly divided on the (t)issue.

What a waste of electrons! (Pun not intended, but there anyway. Sometimes my brain just does that.)

Do not tell me that this is merely “infotainment,” or that, well, I read the story after all. I did read it, but what I was afterward was neither informed nor entertained.

No, what I was getting at (Look! There goes the point!) was that while print journalism is probably dying, online journalism is no replacement. Of course, neither was television journalism. (Maybe radio journalism had something, but I wasn’t around for that.)

Television “journalism” suffers from a combination of bias (liberal and conservative), preaching to the choir, and the same variously qualified talking heads. Even the network newscasts devote only a few snappy sound bites that barely ripple the surface of an event or issue; favor good video over good writing or analysis; use thesame words as every other network (snowpocalypsecomes to mind); and ignore important but non-sexy stories. And don’t even get me started on Sweeps Week. Just don’t.

Then we come to what passes for online journalism. Newspaper headlines could be unintentionally funny (Police Shoot Man With Knife), but online news services have recently offered these examples of sheer stupidity:

Miley Cyrus Finally Reveals Why She Sticks Out Her Tongue

Does pee turn to snow in icy cold?

Apparently CIA did not tell truth

Would you buy wine for your cat?

Pumpkin poaching goes unsolved

Will lies hurt witness’s credibility?

Man stole brains sold on eBay

While even stupider headlines can certainly be found with next to no research, many of those headlines came from supposedly reputable news organizations (CNN.com, I’m looking at you).

Every political season I take a break from news, and even parodies of same, because I start screaming when I watch, listen, or read. I may have to extend that policy to non-political season as well, if indeed such a thing exists. I figure if Armageddon arrives (and has been fact-checked on snopes.com), one of my friends will e-mail me about it.

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