When the Journalism Gets Real, Media Criticism Get Fake
The easiest way to respond to bad news about you is to dismiss its writer as a fraud and condemn him or her to a new category called fake journalism.
The easiest way to respond to bad news about you is to dismiss its writer as a fraud and condemn him or her to a new category called fake journalism. To see the latest example of this defense mechanism, look no further than Bryan Goldberg, a co-founder of the Bleacher Report, who has written a screed against "'real journalism'" (the sarcastic quotation marks are Goldberg's). Inspired by Napster founder Sean Parker's 9,500 word essay, which also falls in this hating-on-journalists genre, Goldberg has chimed in not just to defend Parker, who he calls " a person who fundamentally changed the world," but to save himself.
Veiled as a heroic stand against the terrible world of blogs, Goldberg just wants to call out someone who wrote something mean about him. "A few weeks ago, a 'real journalist' named Joe Eskenazi won a presitigious award for his preposterous and poorly researched 'profile' of the company I co-founded, Bleacher Report," writes Goldberg on Pando Daily. Eskenazi, you see, falls into the category of "'real journalist'" because he hurt Goldberg's feelings with his SF Weekly feature story about his company. Goldberg claims he never reached out to him for comment, thus negating all of the reporting in which Eskenazi quotes people calling the site "crap." Ergo he is "real" (ie. fake) journalist, a reflection of the overall state of things in this biz.
This is the trend du jour of public relations: in the face of bad press, people weigh in on the state of the media. That's what Parker did in his essay, calling out all the Internet writers who wrote up his wedding not only for committing that one sin, but for being terrible at their jobs all the time. Alec Baldwin unleashed a fusillade of homophobic tweets after the Daily Mail incorrectly reported that his wife was tweeting from James Gandolfini's funeral. But in between threats, Baldwin has decided "we live in a world where there’s no journalism anymore," he told Gothamist.
Glenn Greenwald, who does a lot of real — no quotes — journalism has taken to doing this, too calling pretty much everyone who doesn't do what he does a fake journalist. "I have seen all sorts of so-called objective journalists who have all kinds of assumptions in every sentence they write," he told the New York Times's David Carr. In response to journalists asking him about his past, he basically called the Daily News and New York Times reporters "real" journalists. "If journalists really believe that, in response to the reporting I'm doing, these distractions about my past and personal life are a productive way to spend their time, then so be it," he wrote over at he Guardian.
The sins of one, however, do not reflect the state of the entire media, nor does an insulted public figure a media critic make. It's hard to take even the most apt criticism seriously when it comes from a place of personal offense. The state of journalism isn't in disrepair because it criticizes you or your lifestyle.