I have found it easy to lose sight of reporting is the media climate we’re living in, and I’m afraid that has skewed my sense of what is happening in the world and why it matters. Trying to engage meaningfully in the issue unfolding along the US/Mexico border has sharpened, for me, the difference between information sources that are adding value to the citizenry and those that are playing to an audience.
It seems to be all about reporting.
Without naming particular outlets, here is the dynamic I see. Some news organizations are reporting on the situation, with reporters writing and filming stories that describe events and quote sources, while others are producing a combination of commentary and criticism of other organizations’ reporting.
The question I am most interested in now, as I try to parse everything that’s happening, is this: is what I am reading/watching/listening to the work of a reporter or a commentator? Commentary is valuable, but in moments of heightened confusion it seems to me the most important contribution is being made by the women and men who are actually there, asking those basic What-Where-When-Who-Why questions.
The sources that are most worth consuming (and paying for) are the ones investing in reporting.
[For your benefit, here is one of the best examples of reporting I’ve seen this weekend.]