I’m the first to call out poor or sloppy journalism… it’s just unacceptable and does irreparable damage to the industry.
But at a time when we need good journalism more than ever, it irks me when I see unwarranted criticism from journalists themselves.
Let’s face it journalists and journalism rarely rate highly when it comes to trustworthiness surveys.
For years I was the butt of jokes as annual surveys revealed journalists were regarded as less trustworthy than politicians, carsales people and real estate operators.
Since Donald Trump took up the office of President of the United States at the start of 2017 it’s been even harder for the profession, because anything said or printed that he doesn’t like is branded as ‘fake news’ whether or not it’s true.
And in the world of social media it becomes even harder to find out what’s true and what isn’t – there’s so much misinformaton out there.
I like to think as journalists we dig a bit deeper and do our research, but that’s not always the case, and so we can’t blame the general public for sharing articles/material that is ‘fake’ when they don’t know who to trust for the right information.
Often I’ll call out friends who have shared something that is ‘fake’.
My biggest bugbear is when I see that all-too-often post:
“Everyone’s raving about blah blah blah… but you won’t see any coverage of this in the media…”
With a link to some tragic story where hundreds of people have been harmed in some way.
Within seconds I can usually direct them to numerous news websites where that story has been covered in depth.
But it’s just not on their radar and if it’s not on their radar, it doesn’t exist.
Recently, Vincent Namatjira was announced as the winner of the prestigious 2020 Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales for his portrait of champion Australian Rules footballer and community leader Adam Goodes.
Artwork: Winner Archibald Prize 2020 Vincent Namatjira 'Stand strong for who you are' © the artist
— Art Gallery of NSW (@ArtGalleryofNSW) September 25, 2020
Immediately this piqued my interest as we have two pictures in our living room by the artist Albert Namatjira, bought in Hermannsberg in the Northern Territory. There had to be some connection, surely?
On commercial news that evening I was clearly informed Vincent is his great-grandson. There was plenty of other media confirming this too including the original media statement from the Art Gallery itself.
Next morning though in my social media feed a friend and journalism colleague had shared the story from a reputable news organisation, that didn’t mention the relationship.
I looked at the comments (it’s a bad habit of mine) and the first question was: I wonder if he’s any relation to Albert?
The coversation continued: I wondered that but it doesn’t mention it in any of the news articles I’ve seen.
More’s the pity the comments then went down the line of maybe it was written by young journalists who don’t know who Albert was and/or don’t have that background knowledge. Ouch!
I immediatley commented it had been on TV news the previous night and included a link to one of the first articles I’d read that morning that mentioned the relationship in the second par.
The last thing we should be doing is attacking our own profession without doing a reasonable dig around first.
This is not an attack on my colleagues but more just a reminder, journalism and journalists are doing it really tough at the moment.
For the most part journalists do try to get it right, so let’s at least support the industry where we can.