Friday, September 16, 2011

MSNBC's Getting Rev'd Up

So local and regional news agencies are shutting down all over the country.  Journalism jobs are hard to come by - there are less and less positions at traditional news businesses for more and more journalism grads to fight for.  I know this, but I hold out hope that the field will mold with the times.  But it burns me to see journalist jobs going to people who are not journalists.

Take MSNBC’s August 23 announcement as a prime example.  The news corp. placed Rev. Al Sharpton in its 6 p.m. “PoliticsNation” time slot.  It’s bad enough that he has no formal training in journalism (he actually holds no college degree), but his personal biases are blazingly evident and have been for years.  Here are a few that I found while reading his biography on
  1. He’s an ordained minister – religious bias.
  2. He’s a political activist, as a leader in the NAACP and a seeker of government offices and the presidency – he has a personal and political agenda to push.
  3. He has a history of slanderous remarks (late 80’s) – can he even do the job?

But this isn’t the first time that major news networks have hired outside the world of journalism for prime time national news, biases be damned.  CNN had Eliot Spitzer, former NY governor (political biases much?), on for about nine months before cancelling his show. 

I feel like we study not just the practices and principles of journalism, but ourselves while in school.  At the very least, we learn to recognize that we all have biases. I feel like handing this job, so crucial to the building and maintaining of this country, over to those who don’t know the journalism field and its mandates cheapens the degree we are working towards.  Do public figures who venture into the news world know that a journalist’s first duty is to the truth? Do they care? Regardless, it will be interesting to see if Sharpton’s news legacy is as long lasting as Spitzer’s.

1 comment:

  1. So how do we change this culture? Or create more opportunities for traditional hard news? Or even just make room for talk show hosts like Charlie Rose who consistently appeal to our more intellectual, more culturally-aware sides?