“Journalists used to be gatekeepers,” says Brooks Jackson, a former journalist who is the director of Factcheck.org, a nonprofit group that monitors the accuracy of political figures. “Tips and rumors and leads would be checked out before they got on the air or in print. But when you have the Internet and Drudge [Report] and your crazy aunt Harriet sending you e-mails about every rumor, it’s hard for journalists to keep the fences and the gates up. . . . Unsubstantiated rumors wind up reported as fact.” [Source]
Even given the fact that we don’t know the full context of the quote, isn’t this one of the stupidest things ever said? I’m literally asking: Is this not one of the dumbest things ever said?
Look: “…when you have [people] sending you e-mails about every rumor, it’s hard for journalists to keep the fences and the gates up….” WHAT?!?! Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of a journalist’s job consists of filtering information—if that’s so hard to do, you shouldn’t be a journalist.
This—fear and complaints of information overload—is what’s keeping print journalists from making The Leap to becoming 21st century brokers of information. It’s stupid, confusing and frustrating because it’s no different than what they’ve done for the last 300 years. The tools and methods have changed and, yes, more “noise” has developed now that anyone can publish for free. But you know what? That’s why we need more journalists filtering the noise. You gain and you offer nothing by removing yourself from the New Media landscape.