A bad interview, and a worse column. Journalism’s melodramatic leaps of logic can get really stupid most of the time.

I watched Sunday night’s 60 Minutes program with Lesley Stahl verbally pounding away at Betsy DeVos, the fabulously wealthy woman who became Education Secretary, and then really, really, really did not do well being interviewed.

It really was not a good interview. DeVos clearly is not someone who interviews well at all, and I have known many bad interviewees that aren’t incompetent in their jobs. It is the same reason I put zero stock in campaign debates — at most, it shows who is the best debater, not the most qualified candidate.

When I used to teach public speaking to college students, I trained them how to handle crisis-level questions in front of an audience as asked by me who was a professional journalist when they had no time to prepare ahead. Most of them learned how to handle it. Many learned because they watched their classmates, took notes, and then discussed strategies with each other between classes and breaks, which was the actual, if covert, point of the exercise.

I also had many of those students for my Communications course — and that required a different skill set, in this case, writing reports, letters, memos, and other forms of business communications. I can tell you right now some students were better written communicators, while others could do impromptu speeches without blinking.

Some could do both with ease, and others struggled with both forms of communications.

So that a seasoned national journalist such as Lesley Stahl could make mince meat of DeVos is not actually impressive. She could have just as easily lobbed less hostile questions instead of taking an unnecessary aggressive stance, and gotten a better result. If she were a truly adept journalist, she could have revealed much more about DeVos without the theatrics.

DeVos could easily get crisis media training, and learn how to keep calm under brutal interview conditions. It’s a dirty little secret: people who handle hostile interviews well do so because they paid former journalists and PR firms to show them what to expect, and how to react.

A person who doesn’t buckle during an intense interview could merely have been trained to do it — and your impressions are not actually accurate.

My j-school graduate thesis was on how to use crisis communications to control the message. I wanted to know precisely how PR could take a bad situation, and then regain control of the narrative to bring their clients’ a decisive victory. I interviewed veteran PR specialists for it. I read their manuals, and my advisor owned her own PR firm. By the time I was through, I had created a map of how people in the field eke out victories within devastating defeats.

So DeVos had an abnormally hostile interview. She was unprepared — but it doesn’t mean she didn’t know the answers of questions asked during the interview. Some people freeze, have poor memories under abnormal circumstances (and getting interview for a national television show is a highly unnatural experience, in both the style of communications, and the reasons for submitting to such an unnatural style). What it means is she had a bad interview, and as a journalist, that’s not what you actually want to make a point: you want a fair interview where people can come to their own conclusions because you gave enough space for someone to reveal themselves on their own free will.

You would need to find other confirming or refuting evidence to see if she is that uncertain of information, and it is here that Stahl’s report completely crumbles itself.

You cannot rely on a single hack of being the bogeyman interviewer and then strutting around intimidating a newsmaker — you need to have your researchers find proof that this person has a lack of knowledge in a very specific area, and then show it during the segment.

So, for example, if I were to interview someone who was accused of a crime he denies committing, and I ask him to tell me what he did that entire day, and he had a gap or two during the interview, I could go on that information alone, showing how the intrepid and aggressive journalist “uncovered” the truth with the interview alone.

But that would be very dishonest. I would also have to go back, and interview people who could tell me whether this person has a bad memory, is a private person, actually has an alibi, but may have kept quiet to protect a person, or was ashamed of something and clammed up.

If during the course of my research, I found out the person did have an alibi, but just froze out of fear, the interview becomes a lie.

But if I find out that the person doesn’t have an alibi because he committed the crime — I can now easily run the interview clip — and then enhance that part by showing what else I found to confirm the significance of that segment of the conversation.

This was one of those showy interviews that had a far less going for it than meets the eye.

This is not to say that’s what happened to DeVos in that interview — but interviews with hard anchors at critical points make for news.

As a journalist, I can tell you that I have come across seemingly gotcha parts. Each time, I had to see how much I actually “got”. Sometimes, there was something significant, but other times, the person just didn’t have media training and fumbled.

There is even a term for it: L’esprit de l’escalier. It simply means of thinking of the right comeback or answer after it is too late. As a journalist, I always had to factor in that possibility when working on a story because if someone came back and provided evidence that they were in the right, then my credibility was in question. Sometimes that is exactly what you are dealing with, and other times, it isn’t. You cannot tell until you have confirmed or refuted that contentious segment.

Why is that important?

Because journalism is about facts. An interview is just one source of information, even if the story is about that newsmaker. People not schooled in the profession don’t always see what’s the big deal, but it is a crucial factor. I have interviewed people for potential stories, and then when I tried to verify information from more than one source, things didn’t add up. There was no story; just someone who wanted media attention and gave a stunningly perfect interview.

Which is another problem: often, the people who give the best interviews that are smooth, charismatic, and seemingly logical are, in fact, rubbish. It’s a bunch of lies strung together and then packaged to be media friendly. Bon mots can be like that: they are the witty rent-a-quotes who know exactly what to say, how to say it, and when, but their timing and confidence masks the fact the interview is a hoax.

Or, some of the interview holds up — the parts meant to reassure me that the person is on the level — but the important stuff — the reason for the interview — is just hogwash.

The DeVos interview was a classic Bambi-versus-Godzilla interview, and the problem is that they are pure entertainment. It plays to the partisan, but when you look at it empirically, it is just as flawed as the interview itself. It was like being impressed that a heavyweight boxer punched the lights out of a five year old who is already scared of him.

So I wasn’t not exactly impressed with the quality of the actual story because all the feints and ruses could not deflect my attention away from the problematic omissions of the story; in this case, the succinct and elegant facts that could have made a better case then verbally slapping around someone who honestly doesn’t have to be working for a government when she has that much money and purpose. DeVos is a generous philanthropist. She doesn’t have to do any of it, and I am sure, on some level, she cannot understand the vitriol hurled at her.

There is far more to the story than the fact that lefties hate everyone who doesn’t walk lockstep with their demands, just as righties hate everyone who doesn’t walk lockstep with theirs. That is not news. That’s life.

What is news is more textured: who is Betsy DeVos and why is she pushing through all that abuse when she doesn’t have to do any of it? What’s the motive? What drives her?

That is the first and most important part of the story: setting the framework of this highly unusual woman. You do not have to like her or hate her, but you do need to understand what drives her. Is it the paper crown? Is it her part of her core beliefs? If so, what are those beliefs?

What brings this person to this spot?

You then have multiple ways you can take the facts: what has she done? How is it working out so far? How does her machine operate? Some people are factualists and can recite every piece of data off the top of their heads. Other people are fuzzy thinkers, and they are broad in their approach.

The problem with the Stahl interview is we don’t actually know if DeVos is a fuzzy thinker, a person who doesn’t interview well, or not fit for the job. People who hate her will go to option #3 without bothering with hard evidence.

But an outsider will wonder more about evidence. If you are a true journalist, you have to bring facts that refute alternative explanations.

If you are a partisan hatchet queen, you just attack. Stahl just attacked. This will not sway DeVos’ defenders. It will not push outsiders to draw the same conclusion. Do not preach to a converted flock. Show, don’t tell.

So what viewers were left with is a hot mess: a person who obviously doesn’t interview well up against someone who is all show, and a lot less substance than what she ought to be.

Stahl discussed how certain test scores for students were going up, and not down, and I found that argument interesting, but not exactly damning.

If you have test scores going up — or down, then you have to account for the quality of the test — is it reliable, valid, useful? Are the questions relevant to gaining mastery for eventually employment? Is there cheating? How are these tests administered? Is it across the board? Have the tests been diluted?

Very often, tests are dumbed down to reach certain quotas. If you are making the case that test scores prove that schools are functioning fine the way they are, then you have to prove it. You do not appeal to authority, and tests are a form of authority.

If the point of the story is to say that unequivocally, that this person is making horrific damage and there is empirical proof, you have to make an iron-clad argument. The haters will be satisfied with just a meme poster.


The problem with 60 Minutes is that they do an awful lot of authority deferring, and tests aren’t always as definitive as they first appear. There are many tests to detect psychological disorders, but some of those tests count everyone has having a form of a disorder, regardless if they score zero or the maximum, and many of those tests cannot differentiate one disorder from another.

Math tests may not have those issues, but they can have other issues. Are students training to pass that test at the expense of learning more than what’s on a test?

So, if you are going to make the hypothesis that DeVos is going to make things worse, you then have to spend the bulk of your research establishing the current educational landscape first. You can’t just take one set of tests score then think that’s all there is to it. It’s a confirmation bias.

Even for the brevity of a television news segment, you can still do this kind of research. You build a structure as a reference point, and then find several facts that decisively confirm your hypothesis — but should you find any that refute it, you still have to give it credence to give an accurate account of reality. So someone may be mediocre at one part of the job, but their strength is somewhere else, and then the news consumer can balance it out for themselves.

If that were the only faults, I doubt I would have even mentioned the report at all because almost all 60 Minutes’ follow the same formula, but then the Washington Post stuck its nose in it, and then got all stupid about it in this silly opinion piece.


To say the piece is a ridiculously unwarranted leap in logic would be an understatement. Betsy DeVos gave one really bad interview where it was an uneven bar fight, and now the commentator decrees that is the reason rich people should never meddle in civic affairs.

That is prejudicial thinking to say the least. What if a raging sexist decided that no woman should be in positions of power based on that one interview as well? It is the same primitive thinking.

The sophistry spewed in the piece is melodramatic, but doesn’t actually make her case. You have people who try to contribute something more, and then they don’t do it right because they don’t have the same experience in navigating through it. That doesn’t speak poorly of those willing to try, sometimes with hundreds of millions of their own dollars — it speaks very poorly that we have a system that is rigged against novel ideas from atypical people who are willing to get pummelled on a national news program because they truly believe in what they are doing when they could be doing things that are not stressful or potentially humiliating to them.

Western thinking is highly bigoted in that regard. It is xenophobia that keeps alternative ideas from being added to systems, making fairly logical theories turn out to be disastrous because we have people sabotaging the person at every turn, distracting them so that they do fail. We have come to the point that we want those people to fail just for the selfish purpose that they may be right, and then we cannot get the glory from it. It’s the selfie mindset.

We don’t have ways to experiment and test new methods, making it hard for us to take advantage of changing landscapes because our rote models of doing things try to ignore reality. You cannot shut out the wealthy from civic life just because you are a petty little soul who is jealous of their money.

Just as I believe you have to look after the whole of the society. We don’t have the terminally ill in charge of a healthcare portfolio. We don’t recruit the poor when it comes to elevating their financial precariousness.

We have lost nuances of thinking and have become binary machines.

So both 60 Minutes and the Post offered nothing of value to the public discourse. The worst of it was that there were several more sensible and useful ways to make a stronger case, but when people are too in love with themselves and pay no mind to the reality swirling around them, it becomes an empty theatre where nothing is truly learned, and we are no better off before the show than after.

And just in case you thought perhaps US journalists ask the obvious questions…

60 Minutes dispels that theory with a report on the Club Fed-style prisons in Germany.

In all the questions asked about the doting on offenders, the journalist never asked the one question…How much money is the German government spending on the victims of those crimes?

There is PTSD. There are medical bills. There is loss of income and a slew of other problems, from legal bills to having your career derailed.

What about those people? Are you paying for their yoga?

And if not, why not?

The State of Journalism, 2017



It is has been journalism’s ugliest year because a rotting corpse is not a pleasant thing to look at or smell.

2016 marked the death of journalism.

It fell one by one like dominoes, but the falling down is not over in the communications industries.

2017 proved it was not in a mere slumber or coma, and it was a global problem. The patient was really, seriously, dead.

The self-assessments of what happened are useless.

And are as arrogant, ignorant, lazy, and cowardly as one can get.

What’s going to save journalism? Really Nation?

Nothing. It is dead, you fashionably late sleep-walkers.

No, New York Post, the media aren’t killing themselves.

They already killed themselves. Past tense. It happened, and no one bothered to spring for a coffin. Even the Pope should be informed he may have to preside over its funeral, rather than lecture them.

This 2006 journal article is a real knee-slapper of the worst sort.

No, Journalism Studies, j-schools cannot teach journalists how to save themselves because they are as clueless as the people they send out into the world to get slaughtered because your educational system did not expand their thinking, but seriously constricted it.

Just as educators think they are the smartest people in the room, journalists thought the same way, too — and still do.

Yep, the patient has been dead for a long time. You can check back tomorrow, deniers, it’s still dead.

The rotten corpse being held with some puppeteer’s wire is not turning false hope into reality, kids!

The limousine liberals, champagne socialists, and the alt-right knuckle-draggers do not have the mindset or ability to save a dead corpse. What you need are radical centrists, not partisan propagandists who stoop to wearing the decaying mask of a once noble profession.


As I have no hard numbers as none were ever kept, I am fairly certain I am probably just about the only person in the history of the world who ever went into journalism for the express purpose of studying it. (If you went into that profession for the same reason, by all means, let me know, and keep track of this exclusive and eccentric little club. The more, the merrier, I always say.)

So I have no ego riding on its condition one way or another.

And I can tell you, it’s dead.

I won’t tell you all about my iconoclastic odyssey, just one part of the last quarter century to put something in perspective.

It was a decade ago when my Method Research took its next logical turn, I had to compare traditional journalism with a control group; otherwise, my findings would have no context, and would be useless.

So I decided to create a model of news gathering online with no one’s meddling.

The number of experiments I conducted at this time were fast and furious as I had far more control over my environment than I did as a traditional journalist.

As I had experience in traditional media, I knew what I was looking for and how to find it.

Because the Internet is, essentially, just one giant vanity press, where any uninformed individual can pretend to know more than anyone else, it has always been a con man’s game, and these experiments would tell me whether or not genuine journalism could work on this medium.

I had not only my own work, I could compare to other online news vehicles as well.

But I could not forget to use traditional media as a comparison, along with one other group.

At the time, Don Hewitt had just retired from 60 Minutes (more like unceremoniously dumped by his masters whom he served perfectly, but let’s not upset the publicists). He was a shrewd man, and his methods were legendary. To get to a crash scene, he thought to charter a lone boat that was nearby — which had been the only means to reach it — and prevented other journalists from getting exclusive footage.

He wanted one anchor to learn to read braille so he wouldn’t need a teleprompter, but the anchor in question refused. It was still a stroke of brilliance.

I was at the time actively experimenting with a transparent news vehicle — a real-time behind the scenes sort of venture: I would pursue a story, explaining the steps and logic behind it. I would describe how I was pursuing a story, any missteps or strikes outs coming my way, my remedies, and so on.

People could watch the story unfold as they learned how difficult it could be to cover a story. It was like being in the newsroom and watching things unfold, and it was done long before other outlets tried similar tactics.

Hewitt had decided to start a media venture on his own that appealed to younger audiences. I simply offered to contribute in some mutually beneficial arrangement. I had included everything from a treatment to a business plan in my tome of a proposal. To my surprise, he called me back and asked for a demo tape, and we had a lengthy discussion over other things, from me underestimating the costs of my business plan to how to present news differently in an Internet Age.

I sent him one, and he then called me back in August 2007, being quite dismissive and insulting as he gave me no specifics as to why I would “never make a good broadcaster,” and we got into a heated verbal altercation where I called him a coward – and, yes he was, though I was not happy about the revelation at the time. I felt as if he insulted my intelligence, and he did. If he didn’t like how I saw things, he could have just said it. If he didn’t like my style, just spit it out.

If his venture wasn’t working out in the way he hoped, he could have said it. Even if he thought his reasons were none of my business, he could have said so or not gotten back to me at all. I wasn’t hounding him or pestering him in any way.

The rejection, if it were warranted, merely required a yay or nay. The peculiar rudeness — and a rudeness he by no means expressed in our initial conversation — was out of line. I did not act as if I was above him in a pecking order, believe me. He was a master of the craft, and there was no question about it.

None of that would have bothered me in the slightest – I knew going in that it was a long shot and hinged no hopes on it; after all, I got that far with no one to open a single door for me and it’s better to end things before they get a lot more complicated and messy.  (His own venture never took off and he passed away a couple of years later, confirming to me on some level that my initial suspicions about that entire episode were most likely correct.)

It was his blatant dishonesty that unnerved me – and at this point of his career and life, he really should not have cared one whit about anyone’s opinion, mine included.

He said something else to me that upset me as much as it got me into one of my philosophical jaunts: he told me he worked with the likes of Diane Sawyer, Leslie Stahl, etc., and I said to him, so what? Was the Great Man telling me he wasn’t so great and scraped his success by hitching his ride on other people’s stars rather than the other way around?

Why the pathetic name-dropping when he was the one who propelled people like that to the top by making them look smarter than they were?

And that’s when it hit me how wrong I was in my initial assumptions and what I had failed to see before – the profession was built on a very specific flawed mind-set – it preferred the tried and true and everything that avoided risks, while hiding from the very things it needed to face to evolve and grow – just like the people who avoided watching the news for the very same reasons.

News producers could face certain dangers, but not the ones closest to their homes and that was the very reason they were going to have trouble surviving in this new world where even a mediocre competitor could wipe the floor with the old media’s collective faces.

That also meant the apparent age gap of the news wasn’t as important as I first thought because it was a symptom of a deeper systemic problem. It’s not as if there aren’t young people who are news producers – but they get paid minimum wage as they have no chance to truly ever move up the ladder with a respectable paycheck, and many have to leave broken and disillusioned as younger and more desperate versions of themselves are willing to work for free just to get noticed.

When everyone is hiding from the same elephant in the room, their age suddenly becomes irrelevant. A desperate twenty year old is as useless as a desperate eighty year old because both will make the same underlying assumptions that lead them to make the same mistakes.

I realized he was angry because he couldn’t transfer his methods to a new medium, and it was a crushing realization. He was not yelling at me — but himself, and the name-dropping was to reassure himself, not make me feel small.

And that was the day I told off a titan in the profession as I began to seriously wonder just how horrible the Internet would be to the very concept of journalism.

At the time, I just didn’t realize why that was the case, and what secret rig stood in the way that neither journalistic legend Don Hewitt could figure out — nor eccentric maverick Alexandra Kitty could riddle out herself.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have told him exactly what it was. Even if that was the end of that road, at least I could have given him something to ponder.


If someone as cunning as Hewitt couldn’t handle the Internet when he could handle every other facet of the profession, then no one could, especially not in the long-term.

He was a legitimate news producer better than any of his peers before or after. His was not about attitude or image as he was in the background, and generals don’t fight on the front lines.

While Roger Ailes was a master of carny and propaganda, Hewitt knew how to get the scoop like a soldier.

There was a reason why Hewitt couldn’t make a legitimate success from the Internet: because he understood reality, and the Internet is not about reality.

It is about self-deception and fostering delusions.

It is about destroying critical thinking, and dismantling attention spans so people can no longer think and reflect, but react like spoiled children who are innately ripe for conning.

Hewitt’s work hinged on reflection, and seeing a big picture, but the Internet has completely decimated that part of people’s thinking.

He was not some relic: he was someone who could navigate in the universal arena of war strategy.

But when people learn to click and react to whatever new stimuli they see on a screen, they are perpetually ripe for fleecing.

Journalism fell for the con game. They dismissed the hucksters, and then tried to become them, which made them into hypocrites.

There were ways to take on the Internet in such a manner as to remove the rigs, and ensure that there was a genuine connect between news producer and news consumer.

And journalism lost because they got on a battlefield they did not understand, and their enemies understood it, lured them on the field, and not just defeated them, but enslaved them, taking their spoils for themselves.

But the death of journalism did not mark a victory for the Internet.

In fact, when the Internet and social media’s fortunes tumble in 2018, it will be precisely because it killed off journalism.

How so?

There is an old Serbian proverb:

Ко другоме јаму копа сам у њу пада.

Simply put, people who make traps for other people, fall into them instead. The Internet has not educated people. They have, most charitably, miseducated them with rote behaviour, turning people into reactionary animals, who do not see what has happened to them.

The problem becomes when people realize that their fortunes will not improve, and that their Twitter tantrums will have no long-term effects as the outrage brings back diminished returns, there will be a void.

#MeToo may very well be the vehicle that hastens social media’s effectiveness as a weapon because expectations are high, but the ones who preyed upon their employees still have the funds, means, experience, and connections to form a counter-attack, and people do not have the patience for a protracted battle played out in public.

They want a contrived resolution, and then just forget about it.

And for people who were brave enough to speak out, the feelings will be painful, and then wonder what is the recourse now?

If you can’t get what you want on the Internet, what’s left?

And you can’t get what you need or want on the Internet aside from a few trinkets you can order.


The Internet is a medium that is destroying livelihoods, and attention spans. It wastes time on life-sinks, but for whatever time and resources it pretends to save us, it squanders it on things that are even more wasteful.

When the super-rich become the ultra-rich, and you are sleeping in your car with your doctorate in the trunk, you think it’s just you.

But you can rant about Net Neutrality on your smart phone as you follow Jeff Bezos on Twitter.

Journalism has done not a thing to counter this sanctioned insanity, keeping too many delusions in place.

So why is #MeToo in danger of backfiring?

Because journalism’s old narrative techniques have been used to tell this story, but the Internet is not equipped to handle it.

With too many splinter groups and micro-special interests who all expect to be taken as seriously as anyone else, everything spirals out of control at a much faster pace.

If everyone is a special interest, the Majority does not exist.

And then you are raging at no one in particular.

When a void meets an echo chamber, you have essentially place where you have given it your best and strongest hit, and lost every erg of your energy with zero to show for it.

And the Internet promised the opposite. It is typical bait and switch.

When people realize they are addicted to a nothing, the disillusionment turns into a different kind of rage because no one wants to be played for a fool.

Trump used Twitter to own the White House, and Twitter was supposed to be reserved for the little people to make themselves important and standout.

But then another billionaire got what he wanted, and they never will.

Even that dream is gone.

Just as journalists are throwing temper tantrums, so to are those social media addicts who shake in their boots that the end of Net Neutrality will mean their delusions will be proved to be just that.

The problem will be a complicated one: people will want to hold on to their illusions of being their own broadcaster, but they will not have the tools or know-how to actually be informed.

They allowed local information venues to be decimated, thinking that in order to look important and learned, you must solely concentrate on the “big” issues on a federal level, when they are being repeatedly abused at lower levels of government.

But we do not have journalists who are equipped or trained to gather information properly.

When national outlets keep botching up national stories, the writing is on the wall.


Regular citizens are now uninformed.

As in, reading so-called information, and not realizing they know absolutely nothing about everything.

They spew opinions that are meaningless because they have absolutely no idea of what is happening. They do not know their city’s own by-laws. They do not know what laws their governments are enacting. They do not know how their town’s wealthiest citizens are really making their fortunes.

It is catching up to North America fast, but if something strikes North American fortunes, other countries will not benefit from it, either, even if they believe that they will.

News gathering is an essential service, but not in its current rancid form. Something far more sensible needs to replace all those impossible temper tantrums that sound just as ignorant as someone’s Facebook feed.

For a new form of news-gathering requires to counter the rigs set by social media, that benefits no one but those who run it.

The Internet robber barons destroyed journalism in order to be top dog, but the Internet itself is a grifter’s medium: it took the deceptive parts of television news (such as the illusion that an anchor or reporter is in your home looking you in the eye) — and used it to create an even more deceptive world.

When the very rigs of social media are challenged effectively, only then can a new form of information-gathering take root and grow.

There is also an old Japanese proverb:


You have to go into the heart of darkness and danger to get that sacred cub — an uncorrupted opportunity to begin again. The tiger will try to maul you — but you cannot get to the cub any other way.

But in this case, society needs to do this twice over: to find the cub that will provide the proper medium to disseminate information, and the one that provides the method to do this properly.

Journalism is dead, and social media’s fortunes are on shakier ground than people realize. It is only an illusion that is in an inevitable force that cannot be defeated or made to bow.

Hillary Clinton tried that invincible gambit in 2016. It didn’t work for her, either.

And just as Clinton believed she had power to reach out to people, those who use the same platforms to spew their vitriol think they are reaching out and will cling on to that delusion until that delusion bites them in the face with contempt.


People are going to keep turning up their noses at any new form of journalism or medium so long as their illusion of power remains unchallenged, but when a high-profile movement such as #MeToo begins to splutter or peter out, and workplaces become unchanged or worse than before, the memories of the short-term highs will be replaced with long-term reality.

And with actresses threatening to make a mockery of the movement by voguing in black at the Golden Globes, the critical changing of laws and regulations get pushed back.

And ultimately be left untouched until predators see what happened to their predecessors, and then lobby governments to give them more control; so that another #MeToo doesn’t make trouble for them.

As you are fuming at me, you may be wondering why I am writing this on the Internet.

You obviously haven’t been paying attention or actually read a word I wrote. You missed the subtext entirely as you were too busy stewing at the reality and truths you fear the most.

That is your problem, not mine.

Journalism also threw fits when people like me told it to their faces that if they didn’t face problems head on, that they were going to implode.

Denial saves no one.

And that’s why 2017 marked the first anniversary of the death of journalism.

And 2018 will spread the fatal disease to the Internet.

And I won’t be sitting around doing nothing about it.

My experimental odyssey has just about wrapped up this phase. It’s time to tackle social media — and by extension — Internet rigs so that people hold no illusions, to make a better kind of news production thrive.

We don’t just need better information. We need better factual literacy that makes people recoil at littering their Facebook walls with propaganda posters with pretend facts that they just posted without verifying. People on the Left do as do people on the Right.

Those two factions have a lot in common.

And both are factually malnourished.

The Internet did nothing to inform or educate a populace.

And neither did journalism.

But while journalism always made it clear that citizens did not know everything, were not perfect or all-powerful, and had to actually be informed and responsible, social media flat-out deceived them by telling them all of the knowledge they needed was magically there in front of them by a mere passive click, and they could know everything, and hence, needed nothing else.

Never in the history of mankind have we had so much reading, and so much output, and less reliable and valid information than we do now.

Someone can spew some sophistry about how perhaps I want people to think the way I do, but not at all.

I know there are a lot of things almost no one on the planet knows about — me included, and I really would like to be informed about it — I cannot have an opinion one way or another on things hidden from view because people are too busy clogging social media with their opinions on Star Wars and Fuller House — and starting flame wars because someone thinks it’s stupid to clog social media with that garbage — to notice or demand the voids be filled.

And we have nothing but voids.

That is the state of affairs for 2017.

While this is supposed to be the last written entry for me in a while (one more podcast to go, and a couple of surprises), I am off to my laboratory we call planet Earth to test not another theory, but a prototype.

Because it gets boring watching dominoes fall, and there are things to be built without the games or misdirections that covertly bring passive actions to us. The next wave to fall will be no different; and so, off to other places for a much-needed change of view.

Where journalism textbooks fail

I found this article to be interesting.

By the sounds of it, a 60 Minutes book as a text for j-schools would not be a good idea.

When we whitewash the latent misogyny of the profession, we are giving students a very wrong idea of what they can expect.

But it goes further than that.

This is a book that is supposed to extol all of the virtues, and none of the sins, which is a text with a built-in confirmation bias.

That is not information, but propaganda.

When I set out to write Don’t Believe It!, I originally wanted it as a textbook for j-school students so they would not fall for rumours, hoaxes, and propaganda.

J-schools talk about glory. They don’t talk about the grifters in Armani suits who will know how to play you.

60 Minutes has been played numerous times over the years, and I discuss some of it in When Journalism was a Thing. 

But as so much of 60 Minutes, is, in fact soft news and celebrity profiles, they are not exactly as hard-hitting as their image suggests.

J-schools do not have their war manuals. They do not teach students how to separate truth from lies or fantasy from reality. Perceptions are never even discussed.

This is not what the profession needs: a platform to brag to the impressionable children about their glory days.

It needs a book outlining every failure and breakdown the profession has ever had so that those mistakes are never made again.

The long downfall of journalism

Alt-Right publications have been trying to make the case of being legitimate news. They are not, of course, but partisan propaganda. Take Brietbart’s Jack Hadfield was was caught being in a very offensive closed Facebook group, as an administrator, no less.


He is now primed to be in a glowing New York Times profile, if I am guessing correctly.

It is easy to dismiss those partisan vehicles because they are obvious in their skewing. It is not as if they do not have facts in their stories, but the context is questionable, to be charitable about it.

But it is easy to breathe a sigh of relief and think the mainstream press is something better.

But then there is a story wondering about what will happen to Charlie Rose’s pieces on 60 Minutes since he was booted for being an abusive rutting pig around his female coworkers.


As if his stories had merit, considering what he thought was acceptable workplace behaviour.

One boor is not morally superior to the other boor, and yet when a bad reporter is exposed, very rarely do we go back to his body of work and question the filters and narrative.

And yet, we have to question those stories. Some facts may survive, but how we interpreted those stories may be radically different.

We can see what information was omitted and the real reason why.

When it is a partisan outfit, we already have the answer to that question.

But when it is a mainstream one, we go in with an unfounded assumption that there was no ulterior motive on the part of the reporter.

Racism is not a worse quality than sexism. They are equally horrific and destructive.

Journalism needed discipline. It needed to set itself so far apart from its unreasonable facsimiles; so that partisan tactics would be glaring and off-putting.

But that didn’t happen. When the very best is no better than the worst, an industry is beyond crisis mode.

It’s broken.

Journalism is at the once unthinkable place. It took a long time for journalism to fall, but there is no question that it has.

The time for denial is over. We need to figure out how to start again — with a better focus and standards than the last time.