Sunday, August 26, 2012

Does "Boots on the ground" Exclusivity come at cost of being a lap-dog ?

FRANKLIN-bound !
While I and David Common are both Canadian citizens and journalists, only David will be on the Canadian Coast Guard vessel  Laurier as it searches the high Arctic for the remains of the long lost Franklin expedition.

So if you want a near-exclusive look at the Franklin search, from someone is actually there, please rush to view or listen or read David's reports on the various media of the CBC , David's employer.

His near-exclusive will do wonders for his employer's ratings (and ad rates and executive bonuses).

I do not know who is paying David's way - in this particular case that is well beyond the point.

Mere bags of money alone won't get me or anyone else on a small ship already well loaded with scientists and equipment.

The government-sponsered effort clearly picked who it did want on the Laurier ---- and who it did not.

It didn't want a political blogger like Warren Kinsella to be on board, denouncing the whole exercise as an empty Conservative attempt to pretend to care about the Arctic while failing to deliver real money, once the annual tour of TV cameras was gone.

Exclusives and "actuality" sell newspapers and people who spin the news know this.

So creating pseudo-events so far away and so lacking in public access that only a chosen few can be there to act as journalistic eyewitnesses ensures you can pick friendly media ---AND --- expect them not to bite the hand that feeds them.

We, the public, feed into this cosy little sham every time we buy into big media's cant talk about "shoe leather" and "boots on the ground"  of traditional journalism versus the sitting-by-a-computer-and-phone working blogger.

But, by contrast to David Commons's on-site reporting, the CBC's Laura Payton has created a much more probing look at the politics of the search for the Franklin remains, that probably was all done by phone and email and yet, arguably, is far better journalism.

Embedded science reporters...

This "insider lap dogs" vs "outsider questioners" is how popular Science works as well.

Embargoing an exclusive look at all the background material and access to the primary authors of a major study for only for a select group of journalists is almost sure to guarantee that at least some of their editors will feature the story on the front pages.

Why not - a sure exclusive to show against all their lame competitors , who must cobble a story somehow together, hours later, and based only upon the bare article on the journal website.

Will the lucky few that get the exclusive interviews with the principles in the story be hard on those scientists' new claims ?

Not if the sponsoring University and publishing Journal's PR departments has done their homework : knowing exactly which journalists do (or do not) like claims to be able to clone human life, for example.

Boots on the ground actuality and exclusivity in science, as in Iraq , often comes at the cost of being little more than becoming the "embedded" semi-official spokesperson for the organization that granted that boon of exclusivity.

I F Stone did far better journalism by avoiding all exclusivity, even of secret brown paper envelopes, and developed his articles based exclusively on close readings of the open public record.

He simply remembered what was claimed yesterday versus the reality of today's claims and by comparing the two, blew holes the size of the Viet Nam War into the credibility of then President of the United States, LBJ....

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