Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Two Hour Reporter

A few years ago I was getting more and more frustrated with reporting. It seemed that reporting had reduced to "getting both sides of the issue" and writing up what they say, and then just leaving it at that. Either from laziness or a misguided notion of objectivity, the news had turned into no more than a "he said, she said". But when someone cited a fact, did the reporter make any attempt to see if it was true, or what the evidence for it was? Did they make a concerted effort to get genuine, real answers to the questions posed by the other party? In short, did they ever make a side work? Did they ever call anybody on anything?

It seemed there was a market for some sort of analytical reporting. It would not be immediate news. Instead, it would publish once a week or so, and it would get both sides, and then attempt to do genuine criticism of the evidence, and present the best conclusions it could - with the reasoning for said conclusions stated and clear. I thought about this enough that I researched graduate journalism schools for a while. Again this was several years ago; I am not thinking about leaving linguistics.

I have been exploring the blogosphere a little in the last few days. I have never really paid attention to it previously. But it occurred to me today that perhaps a proper blog could serve this function. One thing it cannot be is, of course, true policy analysis as should be in a journal, since I lack access to the sources, training, and mostly time. The final thought I had was to make a virtue of these limitations. What could I do in a defined amount of time, say, 2 hours? I would take a single issue and over a week spend about 2 hours investigating it. Then I would write it up on the blog. The main purpose would be to gather facts for people in a few paragraphs. The second purpose would be to make a point. If I could do something worthwhile with my tiny amount of ability and time, think what a real reporter could do?

It's a thought.

The goal would be to be as objective as possible. Get as many sides as I can, but then analyze them as well - NOT just repeat what they said. Of course, all people have points of view which properly shape how they see the world. I toyed with a sort of disclosure at the bottom of each article. The article would be written on some topic as best I can, and then at the end there is a link to "personal opinion," where I go ahead and simply say what I think myself on the topic. The concept would be to provide that disclosure in order for the reader to analyze my own article, so that they can look for pitfalls that I was unable to avoid.

All of this would be a separate blog, as this one is really intended to just keep friends and family up to date. Thoughts?

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