Does journalism work?

Journalism without effect does not deserve the special place in democracy that it tries to claim.

But rather than the headlines reflecting the most important events, perhaps they should reflect the most pernicious misconceptions. Good journalists already have some sense of this, and every so often we learn of an alarming gap in public knowledge.

Jonathan Stray’s latest masterpiece. As he notes, journalism must be about improving the day-to-day functioning of a society.

Public Disinterest

Radio airwaves were not always open to the broadcasting of divisive opinions. This is the background of how the airwaves transformed from a public good to a place that feeds hatred.

In 1974 the FCC called the fairness doctrine “the single most important requirement of operation in the public interest.”

In filing their applications for license renewal, stations had to provide detailed information on their efforts to seek out and address issues of concern to the community. The program listings became the basis for determining whether licenses should be renewed.

I had no idea this was the history of our airwaves. Interesting context for the rise of Rush Limbaugh though.

A customer with a problem is an opportunity

If you are a service organization or have to deal with customers, there’s something here for you to learn: a customer with a problem is an opportunity. Empathize with them. Take responsibility. Do your best to resolve the issue. If you do that, you’ll tie the customer closer to you than others who never have a problem.

From Attitude In Customer Service Is Everything by Randy Murray. Wise words indeed.

Frank Chimero on content

A stellar essay from Frank Chimero on content (as told through the metaphor of watery soup).

You ever order soup at a restaurant and get a bowl that’s mostly broth?

The problem is the register at the restaurant is four-hundred bucks under what it was the day before, and everyone is running around screaming “No one wants to buy our soup!” Then they start looking for different ways to distribute the soup. Do they buy new ladles? Would people like it if the ladles were fancier? “Let’s buy new bowls. People would enjoy the new bowls,” they say. Customers could choose the bowl that best fits their personality, or how they’re feeling that day, or whether they’re having the soup for lunch or for dinner.

Pretty fun to substitute “news” for “soup” throughout the post. Reminded me of an earlier article about news systems trying to pass off watery broth.

I, Reader

“I, Reader” is a great essay about reading, books, and digital devices. One of my favorite bits:

If you were to ask me what I thought I was doing in checking news sites on the internet as many as eight to 10 times per day, starting with the election in 2004, I would tell you I thought I was keeping myself safe. Especially late at night, I felt like I was on night watch for the forces that would eventually put George Bush back in power one more time. It felt like a vigil.

Found via Daring Fireball.