24-hour cycle vs. quality journalism
The New York Times published a gushing article about a well-known Business Insider journalist today, running at an unheard of length of more than 2,800 words.
It’s called, Joe Weisenthal vs. the 24-Hour New Cycle. Weisenthal eats, sleeps and breathes the market. He makes guesses, some correct and some wildly off, strives to get news out first, and focuses on quantity, quantity, quantity.
This fight for facts over clarity popped out at the right time. See the HousingWire interview with Dallas Federal Reserve Chief Richard Fisher, in which he takes issue with journalists who give “too much of a focus on the immediate and the short term.”
This 24-hour news cycle “often will lead to greater volatility, not just in terms of market activity, but in emotions in the way people supposedly analyze things," Fisher said. "There is a lot of information but very little clarity.”
Yet the core of Fisher's message will likely go in one ear of a 24-hour journalist, and out the other, as the article about Weisenthal tells how little he cares of any reality outside of his own:
“It helps that in Weisenthal’s line of work, being wrong doesn’t hurt much. Writing about the markets is like playing fantasy football; it’s a simulacrum of Wall Street. Weisenthal’s money is not at stake; investors aren’t paying him.”
Being wrong doesn’t hurt much? What happened to journalistic integrity and getting the story right? What about that whole “quality over quantity” thing we’ve been told since we took our first steps as journalists? What happened to that?
As self-important as many journalists are, they don’t realize their societal importance. Fisher, on the other hand, seems to realize his. He says the point of his job is “not to be emotional, not to be political, not to worry about what happens minute by minute but to get things right for the long term for the sake of our people.”
Maybe journalists should take note.