Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lesser of two

This is a good dilemma, to be sure. Afterall, we, the media, that is, are to be a watchdog over the government. In turn, the government is to be a watchdog over the media. This would imply that the media keeps things from the public. True? Most certainly. In a way. Paraphrasing Steve Martin in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels", I quote, "I tell them what they want to hear...if it gets me what I want."

As a writer, I feel that the consumers of the media deserve accurate reporting, truthful reporting, and complete reporting. None of this "surveillance" talk when it really should be called "public spying." Things should be reported exactly as they are. I would hope that PR practicioners feel the same, but I also know that they owe some loyalty to their businesses. I would just ask that they don't butter things up too much.

My scale of professional values? What a weird thing to say. I guess honesty to the public ranks pretty high with me. As discussed in class, there are, of course, a few things which should not be disclosed, such as names in certain cases, but other than that, give them the truth, let them see the whole picture.


Moulton said...

"In turn, the government is to be a watchdog over the media."

I don't understand what you mean here.

In what sense is the government to be a watchdog over the media?

Nancy Williams said...

I'd have asked Moulton's question if he hadn't already. And here's another question for you, Jen --

You say journalists shouldn't engage in "surveillance talk" because what it really is is "public spying."

Is there a difference between reporting on something called surveillance, and using the words "domestic spying" to describe what's happening? There's a political split on this one, as you know, with Bush administration supporters railing against the media's characterization of this activity as domestic spying.

Is "domestic spying" a loaded term that should be confined to opinion pages?

missy said...

I don't know if you can put PR in the same catagory as journalism when you talk about telling the truth. I think in PR you have A LOT more loyalty to your company or business and a big part of PR is to "butter things up."

jenopus said...

Surveillance v. public spying. This is something we're talking about in my Media Criticism class called "framing." By using a particular word choice a journalist can frame a story to be more or less pleasing to the public's ear. Hence, what is being called "surveillance" is actually public spying. Which sounds better? Another one? Freedom Fighters v. Insurgents. More often the media use "Freedom Fighters." It doesn't sound all that bad, does it?

Missy, I didn't mean to offend on your views of PR. But don't you hate it when you go into a resaurant and you ask them if they like this menu choice and all they say is, "Yeah." All right, bad comparison. But that's kind of what I mean. I mean, if you worked for a really crappy dishonest company would you honestly be way into buttering it up? I hope not.

As for the government being a watchdog over the media, I'm not exactly sure. That's just what I've grown to learn from my journalism professor, beginning with Bullock. If the government does something bad, we call them on it. If the media do something bad, the government will call us on it. Is that not correct?

Moulton said...

The last time the government notably called the media on a foul it was to fine CBS half a million dollars for broadcasting a 'wardrobe malfunction' at the Super Bowl.

Is that what you meant?