Monday, April 11, 2016

OPINION: Shame on the Boston Globe

It’s not going to be often that you find me writing a column about things happening in the world. That’s really George’s job. I’m more of the books, plays, and history guy. And you’ll find it even less likely that I’ll be writing about politics -- for obvious reasons. Today, however, I have an issue that I feel the need to get off my chest. Really, it’s not about politics. While it does refer to a political figure, it has much, much more to do with the current state of journalism, or lack thereof.

Let me preface this column with an additional caveat. I am, by no means, a fan of Donald Trump. This column is not meant to protect, endorse, or in anyway condone Donald Trump. The purpose is to bring attention to what passes for journalism today, and to put it under the spotlight.

I’m not sure how many of you saw what the Boston Globe did to their cover for Sunday’s paper, but it is the latest in a long line of journalistic missteps. There is a time and place for a satirical editorial. Unfortunately, the front page of the Sunday paper is not that place. There are editorial pages for a reason.

For the past few years it seems like personal opinion and editorial is making more appearances in what is being passed off as news. The news should be passed to the public without blatant bias. It is on the editorial page that the journalist has the opportunity to inject his or her own judgements on the news of the day.

Some of the problem stems from every joker with a computer having a blog. Our opinions are important, but they’re not news. Additionally, just because you have a blog doesn’t mean you’re a journalist. Granted, there are some very good blogs out there done by some exceptional people. By and large, though, blogs are just not news. The same goes for social media. What you had for breakfast just isn’t news, even to your closest friends. Sorry.

Back to the Boston Globe. The fact that an editorial dominated the entire front page of the Sunday paper, dedicated to telling you who you shouldn’t vote for President, is a dangerous precedent. It should be the duty of the media to educate the public on the issues and where each candidate stands. It should not be the duty of the media to tell you who to vote for, or who not to vote for. In fact, that should be your decision alone. No one else should ever tell you who to vote for.

The Boston Globe is no stranger to controversy or fabrication of news. In 1994, both Patricia Smith and Mike Barnicle were forced to resign after the discovery that each had fabricated stories that made it into print. In 2004, the Globe printed photographs that supposedly showed American soldiers raping Iraqi women. The paper issued an apology after it was discovered that the pictures were actually from a pornographic website. Again in 2005, Barbara Stewart wrote a piece about a seal hunt in Nova Scotia decrying the practice, and explaining in full, graphic detail how the slaughter went. In reality, the hunt was delayed due to weather. In essence, in order to once again editorialize a news article, the Globe sacrificed integrity.

To be fair to the Boston Globe, when you’re a dying artform on an eroding foundation, I guess you’ll do anything to keep the office open for another day. When your circulation has dropped by half over the past decade, there’s not a lot of optimism left. You just do what you can.

I am a firm believer that editorials are an important facet of the news. I just believe that there should be a distinct line between reporting news and relaying opinion. I am also steadfast in my belief that no newspaper, television show, or anyone else should ever tell you who to vote for. Education of the issues and the candidates should be done responsibly and give enough information for the voter to make an educated decision on their own.

Now, I know there are people who will ask how this column isn’t hypocritical. To you, I say this. Our website is not news. It is entertainment and opinion. We make no secret of that. If you want to debate the issues in a civilized and calm manner, we can do that. The time of name-calling and derision of differing opinions is over.

Craig Bacon respects your opinion even if he doesn't agree with it. Last he checked, that was still okay.