Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Latest Edition

As people who work in the media, we try to remind ourselves regularly that the rest of the world, or even the rest of America, is often not nearly as "up" on all the latest news stories as we are, or like those you read in our daily extended edition.

That said, we've been sharply critical of our American news media for some time now, as most of our regular readers are aware. What passes for news today, whether on TV, on the radio, in newspapers, or online is often a sickly-sweet combination of celebrity news, gossip, and fluff that's usually missing a key ingredient: News.

Without the ability to be properly informed, it's no real surprise to us that Americans can't even agree on objectively proven ideas in science or economics today. Battles like the one highlighted by Greg Sargent yesterday, between educated voters and ignorant politicans, have become all too common in the news too, as politicans seek to prove their ignorance as a badge of honor to a certain subsection of voters. It doesn't help that often, corporate media executives are more frightened about losing advertisers than about their teams producing honest, quality content.

Thankfully, we've been noticing a positive shift in the American news landscape lately. Over the last two days, that shift has become significant, with the launch of America's latest cable news channel, Al Jazeera America.

As former Nebraskan Ana Marie Cox pointed out accurately in The Guardian, "Al Jazeera America is the news channel Americans deserve." With a top-notch staff cherry-picked from CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, and elsewhere in the media world, that description already seems completely accurate.

From Richelle Carey and Antonio Mora, to Ali Velshi, Joie Chen, and Soledad O’Brien, to John Seigenthaler and David Shuster, the programming AJAM is producing is already more substantive and more informative than much of what their competitors are offering. They're also getting the jump on top stories too, having announced both the Bradley Manning verdict and the earthquake in Mexico before their competitors, while those same competing stations like Fox News were busy discussing weighty matters - like the reunion of pop music group N'Sync.

AJAM isn't the only recent positive change in the news landscape we've noticed.

MSNBC has been stealing some of the best writers and journalists in the business from different publications all over the print and internet world. Many of those are journalists we've linked to regularly in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

We've also been watching HuffPost Live, and its growing and solid influence on more traditional media organizations. Online magazines like Quartz are also pushing our industry in new directions, like the story we cited earlier this week by Tim Fernholz about the Suez Canal.

The push that all of these new and upgrading news and media organizations are giving is one of quality first – a direction that's been sorely lacking in the media industry at most levels for far too long.

We realize that, for now, many of our readers are still stuck with too few quality media outlets - a local TV news show, a newspaper, or a radio station - that are too afraid to do real news well.

We have little doubt, however, that with the latest additions to our greater news media fraternity pushing them to do better, the days of all fluff "news" for the most common media outlet you have access to may be coming to an end faster than anyone had previously thought.