Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Holding Up a Mirror to Journalism - The Media Equation -

But because it is the news business and the company in the sights is News Corporation, the offenders are seen as outliers. The hacking scandal has mostly been treated as a malady confined to an island, rather than a signature event in a rugged stretch for journalism worldwide. Collectively, the press in the United States put more time and effort into pulling back the blankets on the indiscretions of Herman Cain.

But journalism’s ills don’t live exclusively on Fleet Street or stop at British shores. While American newspapers don’t publish in the hypercompetitive landscape that played a role in the tabloid excesses in Britain, the growing ecosystem of Web and cable news shares many of the same characteristics and, all too often, its failings. Economic pressures have increased the urgency to make news and drive traffic, even as budgets have been cut and experienced news professionals tossed overboard.

There is no accusation here of a broad, corporate-sanctioned effort to break the law in pursuit of the news. But the pratfalls have been tough to miss, including fundamental lapses in ethics: Casey Anthony, accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, was acquitted of that offense in spite of significant evidence. When it was revealed that ABC News paid for most of her legal defense, through payments for exclusive photos, very few eyebrows were raised.