Sunday, 15 January 2017

BuzzFeed and Journalism

Obama was the first black President but Trump is about to make history as the nation's first orange one but the colour everyone is interested in is Golden, as in the colour of the showers that the next President has a preference for.
As if he isn't mock-worthy enough already, the four times bankrupt businessman has given further ammunition to anyone who wants it despite his protestations that the prostitute piss party in the Moscow hotel room did not happen.
Although Trump seemed to take umbrage at CNN, digital media 'BuzzFeed' were the outfit who made the decision to publish an intelligence report apparently commissioned by Trump's Republicans opponents, filled with salacious and unsubstantiated claims about the next Presidents outrageous behaviour in Russia.
The news website posted the unredacted documents with a warning that the contents were 'unverified and potentially unverifiable' but put the rest of the media in the position of either ignoring a story in the public domain which they had sat on for weeks as it was not independently verified or repeating the allegations with the previous mentioned caveats which they almost all did.
Some critics have rounded on BuzzFeed, calling it irresponsible for letting loose 'gossip and rumour' who replied that: 'Publishing this document was not an easy or simple call, and people of good will may disagree with our choice. But publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017' and repeated the warning that reason to doubt the allegations.
My reading of the situation is that both the UK and US intelligence chiefs appeared to be giving the 'rumours and gossip' some credibility so have a weight of legitimacy about them coupled with Trump's own strong rejection of reports that Russia had hacked the US election and his subsequent back-down which shows an immediate knee-jerk reaction to dismiss and belittle anything which doesn't show him in a good light until the proof is such that he has to accept it.
Throw in the racist, sexist and 'pussy grabbing' remarks and mocking of the disabled reporter along with the arguments with the parents of the dead soldier which show his moral bar isn't set very high and you could very well believe it all.
As for Buzzfeed, to publish unverified intelligence is irresponsible and a bit troubling that they see it as the way journalism works in 2017 which it isn't and should never be, a minimum of double sourcing is lesson one in any college journalism course. 
To their credit the UK and US broadcasting media rejected reporting the allegations until they were in the public domain and then draped them so full of caveats that they watered them down (excuse the pun) as much as possible to leave nobody in any doubt that these allegations were unverified.
What this does seem to show is the difference between 'new media' and 'old media' who are aware that their credibility is at stake if they publish or broadcast something as meaty as this without proof to say nothing of possible slander proceedings, something that 'new media' seem indifferent to.
Whether it turns out to be true or not, the mud has been thrown and it will amusingly stick to Trump throughout his tenure and i'm happy with that as he is well worthy of all mockery coming his way but my concern is that Buzzfeed will be considered 'journalism' which it isn't because Editors of any respected news organisation know that to publish information it knows may not be true and has no supporting evidence is not how journalism works.


Anonymous said...

I had trouble getting past your first sentence - racist!

Falling on a bruise said...

Going on some of your past posts I can very well believe it.