The principal difficulty for any honest journalist is to sort fact from opinion, and in most news organisations today, little time is allowed for that. With falling revenue, traditional media are cutting costs as fast as they can, and have been for decades. The result is that these media rarely do more than recycle press releases — advertising by another name — and ill-informed opinion.
This does not provide a lot of factual content for the reader. So where are they to go for this? The internet? The amateur journalism of the twitterati? Hardly, because untrained, ill-informed shouters looking for more mirrors aren’t going to give the reader a solid basis for action either.
And, make no mistake, this is what the news is for. It’s not entertainment. It is a view out the windscreen of the ship of state that we, as voters, as workers, as shoppers, as social animals, drive. We need to know where we’re going, and we need this view as free of distortion as possible. This is what is meant by objectivity. The journalist must determine what the facts in any story are, put them in context if necessary (every journalist needs a solid grounding in history and a working knowledge of economics and politics too) and, if he or she has a position on the issue that is any business of the reader, or that will colour his or her work, that position and the reason for it needs to be made clear.
Of course, none of the people paying for news to be written want any of this. A properly informed public is a problem for any body with an interest in managing populations so as to increase their own wealth or power. Nor is actual, genuine news popular with those who feel, probably with some justice, that they have no control over their circumstances. If you can’t step off the rails, wouldn’t you prefer to keep pretending the light at the end of the tunnel ISN’T actually an oncoming train right up until it hits you?
That leaves those of us in the middle, I suppose, looking for the truth in a forest of lies so that we can take the world and change it for the better. We need our truth to be solid. We need our blade to he sharp. We don’t care what you think, only what you know.