Counterfeit news

Det er ikke lett å vite hva vi skal tro på når formidlerne lyger.
It’s hard knowing what the truth is when people hired to find it keep lying. Photo: Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

I am hardly alone in thinking that media isn’t always focused on asking the right questions and giving us the true stories behind the official versions. I have felt for a long time that the free online newspapers have taken their job far too lightly, and that was indeed confirmed this week. Actually this is just as much about the paper editions, but there is a lot more stealing online because they want to offer entertainment without paying for it.

It started when it was discovered that a major financial paper, often referred to as a quality paper, was caught stealing. It turned out that the journalist had “loaned” quite a bit from The New Yorker. The original author, David Sedaris, has been criticised for mixing fiction and journalism, so there’s no way of knowing whether the interview the Norwegian journalist used actually happened. This wasn’t a news story. It was just some light summer reading, but it makes people wonder whether the same journalist lied about his real news stories as well. This made other papers dig into each others articles and more cases of less than original articles showed up. It has evidently been very common. This is especially damaging to media’s reputation because journalists often don’t name their sources, and as most Norwegians don’t read Americans newspapers it’s probably a theft that can go unnoticed. I wonder what these Americans papers and journals feel about it.

I haven’t seen any for a long time, but several years ago I came across some criticism against blogging. There is some obvious and justified criticism of course, such as how easy it is for bullies and idiots to publish anything without anyone helping them to edit the text. I guess that’s a problem we all have, but some to a greater extent than others. There are also some that claim bloggers prevent a good discussion of important topics, but I believe you have to be a complete moron to really believe that you only get that from the paid journalists.

The news from Norwegian newspapers this week show that, and when even serious, awardwinning papers do it, how much do you think it goes on in the worst tabloids? In Norway media watch themselves and editors trust that their journalists do the right thing. It was discovered this time because one of the paper’s readers just happened to be a Sedaris-fan. We live in a society that seems to crave more and more movement. The news has to be short and quick. It’s all about video and manipulated photos today. If the goal is to get people to read maybe a blogger like me, one that uses more words than pictures, has a role to play after all?

I don’t think the written language is completely dead yet, but perhaps there isn’t money in it anymore. Just like on TV people want stories about celebrities with a little dash of news. The stockholders want profit and that won’t give much room for costly digging for the truth, and longer articles than most Millenials have patience for. I guess the rest are like me, they like doing research and they appreciate blogs. I am not convinced that we are as few in numbers as some claim.

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