News Blues

I attended an awards dinner last night put on by the Society of Professional Journalists and came away with a number of questions:

1) In TV news, is it really only a choice between buffoonery and news from the crypt? Why is it so often a choice between Paris Hilton and something akin to watching paint dry?

2) In print: Actually, the questions are the same.

3) Why do we spend so much time aiming coverage at people barely past puberty, who couldn't care less anyway? (And yes, this is sour grapes. I am more than barely past puberty.)

4) Speaking of sour grapes, why do those who might have valid criticisms of media damage their credibility with careless terms like "tarting up"?

5) Why do we take ourselves so seriously? No one else does. And let's be honest: Most of the corporations that control media could care less about "the public's right to know," except when it comes to what the public knows about the bottom line.

6) What can we do about that?

I've got it. Maybe we "professional journalists" need to return to good storytelling, whatever the medium, where we explain the substance of issues without condescending to our audience, without causing their eyes to glaze over, but, at the same time, without stooping to oversimplification, gimmickry and contrived confrontation that produces heat but no light.

What a concept. It might even be profitable. And it's imperative, before the amateurs take over our profession.