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July 15, 2017

I'm a freelance journalist (and I actually pay union dues to the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance). One of the publications I write for is Australasian Science magazine and I took the opportunity to have a whinge about the state of ignorance in mainstream journalism today, with particular emphasis on the poor reporting of health and science.

Hold the front page! More clickbait coming.

Once upon a time the mainstream media employed journalists with expertise in the areas they wrote about. Newspapers would have one or two editions per day with strict deadlines dictated by when the presses had to start rolling. Television had two main bulletins a day and radio stations had hourly news broadcasts. The electronic media would break into programs when significant news stories broke, such as political crises or natural disasters, and newspapers would bring out the occasional special edition in the same situations, although printing and distribution logistics meant that it had to be a really big story.

Two things have changed since Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote The Front Page – nobody seems to employ specialist (or even a sufficient number of) journalists any more, and the news cycle has changed so that the deadline is always "right now" because the website has to be updated as soon as anything happens.

Apart from general news about world events, I have three areas of interest which rarely if ever have earthshattering breaking news. They are information technology, motor sport and health and science. These areas aren't, or shouldn't be, affected by the incessant and constant need to attract eyeballs to webpages, and should allow journalists to put some time and thought into what they write.

The complaining continues here.


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