Zombie journalism has arrived

My good friend the late Murray Goldblatt spent 25 years in the newspaper business and was managing editor of the Globe and Mail before shifting gears to become a journalism professor.  He ultimately assumed the role of chair of the journalism department at Ottawa’s Carleton University where I was teaching business and political philosophy. Murray aggressively held views on many things, some of them on his beloved Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and the rest related to the challenges of being a journalist in an age when you could still tell the difference between newspapers and television.

Some of the things that would make him growl with Lou Grant fierceness: on television, one journalist interviewing another as though the one being interviewed was an expert; the question “what’s the mood?” as a substitute for real analysis; journalists who couldn’t define the meaning of syntax; the phony friendliness employed by television news anchors to ingratiate themselves to the viewer; the use of the word “like” instead of “such as”; burying the lead; split infinitives; superficial encyclopedia-style research for an important op-ed piece; quotes that went on and on and were pointless anyway.

But he reserved his most animated wrath for the perspective that every view needed an opposing view to be credible and that therefore everything was a 50-50 proposition.

And that’s where we are today: every viewpoint has its foil or equal counterpoint. Global warming may or may not be a real phenomenon. Health care could be worth the money but other doctors have different perspectives. The current economic crisis may have been caused by greed and the failure of capitalism, but the jury’s still out. All this and much more on the news at 11.

This is amateur journalism at its pinnacle, and not amateur in a good way.

Zombie journalism has arrived. Murray would be very upset.


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