Canadians were taken by surprise a month ago by the sudden resignation of CTV Quebec City Bureau Chief, Kai Nagata.
"Nagata's personal experience is an in-the-flesh example of how the adoption of economic values and assumptions, this time in the TV journalism industry, have slowly overtaken journalism's traditional values," wrote Flora Stormer Michaels a few days ago in The Tyee, in a perceptive analysis of Nagata's very public statement.
Over this same timeframe, Canadians have also had the benefit of dissecting the whole News of the World phone-hacking scandal in the U.K. This scandal has rocked the right-wing Murdoch's global media empire to its core, with subsidiaries Fox News and others treading very carefully around the perimeter of this issue as best they can.
The story got a lot of traction, which was surprising, in a sense, because of the dismal reflection it cast on all contemporary media. But of course other networks and papers had more to gain by making Murdoch look bad so they ran with it for all it was worth, until the Norway incident and U.S. debt crisis knocked everything else off the front pages.
Sniffing around on the morning after journalism's brief moment in the news, we wonder what can be gained. Does Nagata's initiative end as an item with "100,000 page views and 1,300 comments" on a blog? Does Murdoch go one step back and two steps forward?
Micahels writes that Nagata inadvertently refers in his "manifesto" to two competing cultural stories about what journalism is: The "old" journalism is about keeping citizens informed for the public good, where information, which wasn't a commodity, allowed citizens to hold their democratic leaders accountable. The "new" journalism is about using whatever attracts eyeballs.... (...for the purpose of generating revenue).
This view suggests that the current state of journalism is a postmodern movement, where reality is defined by a socially scripted story, which has become (as if randomly): "create content that will generate the most interest and revenue."
Sorry, I don't buy it.
What Michaels refers to as "new journalism" is not what they wish it were.
It is not a "cultural story" that the good corporate citizen has gone MIA. It is simply greed at work in an unethical age.
Over and above basic greed, a political filter which demands cultivating good will for the political system perceived to be most favorable towards business, is also now entrenched. This is present in virtually all news media today, to a greater or lesser degree. It is up for discussion whether this has been premeditated, or has just been a gradual encroachment.
Let's hope that the actions of Kai Nagata and other enlightened journalists can turn this around.