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The worst quote about journalism, ever. Ever.

December 11, 2009

“Journalists used to be gatekeepers,” says Brooks Jackson, a former journalist who is the director of, a nonprofit group that monitors the accuracy of political figures. “Tips and rumors and leads would be checked out before they got on the air or in print. But when you have the Internet and Drudge [Report] and your crazy aunt Harriet sending you e-mails about every rumor, it’s hard for journalists to keep the fences and the gates up. . . . Unsubstantiated rumors wind up reported as fact.” [Source]

Even given the fact that we don’t know the full context of the quote, isn’t this one of the stupidest things ever said? I’m literally asking: Is this not one of the dumbest things ever said?

Look: “…when you have [people] sending you e-mails about every rumor, it’s hard for journalists to keep the fences and the gates up….” WHAT?!?! Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of a journalist’s job consists of filtering information—if that’s so hard to do, you shouldn’t be a journalist.

This—fear and complaints of information overload—is what’s keeping print journalists from making The Leap to becoming 21st century brokers of information. It’s stupid, confusing and frustrating because it’s no different than what they’ve done for the last 300 years. The tools and methods have changed and, yes, more “noise” has developed now that anyone can publish for free. But you know what? That’s why we need more journalists filtering the noise. You gain and you offer nothing by removing yourself from the New Media landscape.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2009 3:26 am

    Well said. If one thing has changed in the last 10 years, it’s that there is more information around now than ever before.

    So many journalists are killing their careers simply because they refuse to deal with that.

  2. December 13, 2009 1:09 pm

    The real tragedy is that I see that attitude in young journalists, too, who are trying to satisfy their Old Media bosses. There’s this “us vs. them” attitude in a lot of newsrooms and I think that, unfortunately, once some of these kids (to be fair: I’m only 25) start looking for new jobs, they’re going to find that they’ve spat on the new tenets of journalism to their own peril. There will be (probably already is) a huge chunk of otherwise talented journalists who we never get to find out about because they were told that they should just try to make print products.

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