April 8, 2011
God bless the CWA. One of the great benefits of living in a university town is the infusion of wisdom and controversy waves of young minds and somewhat older professors wash over us each year. The CWA brings this intellectual cross-pollenization to a head. The most wondrous aspect of the sessions is the audience. In the journalism session I attended on Wednesday (“Long Live the News”), 20% appeared to be students and the remainder constituted a robust cross-section of Boulder’s other residents. I may have to start reducing my commitments during CWA, because the quality of the presentations and the subsequent questions and answers was at the highest level.
“News” is flowing towards us in an ever-growing torrent. Our job, if we choose to accept it (and heaven help us, if we don’t), is to develop Great American Readers and Listeners. Skepticism must always exist in response to a pay-to-play news cycle. Wire services have been steadily pumping stories out since the early part of the last century. The blogosphere is doing the same thing, but at drinking-out-of-a-fire-hose speeds and volume. WE must apply the filters and slow down our “judgment cycle” as the news cycle speeds up.
Some commentators do more old-fashioned journalism than the anchors from other outlets, correcting misinformation, revealing biases, learning from real experts, and placing actual facts in play. Other “affirmation-type” journalists eschew consistent accuracy, compelling prose and thoughtful analysis. We must find ways to feed the former and starve the latter, before it’s too late.