I think it’s pretty clear, actually, what the “roles of media” should be:
Beat reporters are supposed to relay information about the team they’re covering to the public. The news should be reported in an unbiased manner, and all sides should be represented.
Columnists are supposed to write about their opinion on a particular subject. If a columnist goes to cover a game, the story should include quotes and anecdotes that support the premise of the column. People don’t read columns for the game story, because the beat reporter has conceivably already filed that.
Radio/television talk show hosts are supposed to generate the highest ratings possible. The higher a show’s ratings are means the station can charge more money for advertising, and thus create more revenue. Radio and television stations are businesses.
Talk show hosts can choose how they format their programs, but the reality is that a “sensationalist viewpoint” often trumps “level-headed thinking” in the ratings. It is simply impossible for somebody to have a passionate opinion on every
subject, however the medium demands that every host must have a “take” on everything and everybody. This often results in manufactured arguments and some manufactured storylines that are only discussed for the sake of “stirring the pot.”
Again, I feel like these roles are pretty simply defined. I’m always amazed when somebody like Bruce Allen, whose job is to critique media, bashes Michael Felger for “not just talking about the facts!” Of course Felger (or any other talk show host) isn’t going to just “talk about the facts.” It is assumed that the listener already knows the story of the day, and is listening to “Felger and Mazz” to hear Felger’s and Massarotti’s opinion on the story. Relying on sports talk radio for unbiased sports news is just as ludicrous as watching Sean Hannity for unbiased political coverage.
Now due to technology, this all gets a little more complicated. For example, when Ian Rapoport (for example) is a guest on “Sports Tonight,” should he still be expected to fulfill the obligations of a beat reporter? The answer is no, because when Rapoport is a guest commentator on a TV show, he isn’t breaking news. He’s asked to express his opinion on a subject.
If one reads Rapoport’s game stories, they’re not going to include any biases because in that medium he’s a reporter. But when Rapoport is on a talk show, he is going to be biased because he’s asked to be something different.
The trouble comes with Twitter. Beat reporters use the same twitter account to report news AND to opine on whatever they feel like. This definitely clouds the picture, as it becomes unclear which tweet is intended to be news and which tweet is intended to be analysis. I think that more responsibility needs to be taken in regards to twitter accounts and things of the like.
Last thing…anything a public figure does in a public domain is newsworthy. There is nothing wrong with publishing a picture of Rob Gronkowski dancing in a nightclub after the Patriots lost the Super Bowl. There is also nothing wrong with a talk show host dedicating a show to it, or a columnist writing a column about it. They can give their opinions on whichever topics they choose. If you as a consumer don’t want to hear or read about Gronk dancing in a nightclub, then don’t listen the show and don’t read the column.
Edited by Phenom, 10 February 2012 - 01:31 PM.