Monday, September 22, 2008

All the news that fits my point of view

Breaking down organizational silos, or building connections between them, is all the rage in many workplaces today, mine among them. I think that's a good thing. It leads to greater-good decision making, cooperative behavior, better results.

Meanwhile, however, it appears society at large is heading the opposite direction.

Case in point:

Our local newspaper trimmed its staff last week. A dozen of the downsized were newsroom staffers, reporters who kept their finger on the pulse of the community, gathering, interpreting and sharing, more or less objectively, the information about events that affect life in our town.

Columnists who put forth personal viewpoints were spared this round; research must show that readers are more interested in opinion than they are facts. Or that the old notion of professional journalists probing multiple sources in search of the truth has become as quaint as the typewriters they once used to compile their news stories.

In any case, our hometown paper has fewer news-gatherers to report on the happenings in our city, which makes the paper even less relevant. And because newspapers are about the only organizations left that actually pay journalists to be reporters, that's bad news for those of us who genuinely want credible information about what's going on in our communities and the world.

So, what's a citizen to do? Walter Cronkite is long retired, Tim Russert is gone. Newspapers fill their dwindling pages with opinion, infotainment and celebrity drivel from the wire services. And anyone with a keyboard and an axe to grind is a "journalist" on the internet.

It no longer pays news organizations to serve a mass audience that today has splintered into thousands of fragments, which leaves us on our own to find sources we trust to learn what's going on in the world.

And because we really don't have time to seek out varying points of view, most of us turn to sources -- talk-radio programs, columnists, blogs, late-night tv hosts and newsfeeds with agendas to advance -- that reinforce what we're predisposed to believe.

Which means I get one version of the truth, you get another, my neighbor down the street gets yet another.

Truth silos, if you will. All the news that fits my world view for me, your world view for you.

As damaging to society's common good as organizational silos. Government of, by and for the people who do the best job of marketing their silo.

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