We’re a blog, and we’re proud of it. There’s a certain amount of baggage that goes along with that term, to the point where other sites have tried to escape the moniker and develop themselves as ‘real journalistic websites.’ Because when you’re just a blogger, you get lumped in with people like us. MMA Junkie and Five Ounces are examples of this. Sure, scrape the makeup off and the blog is still obvious beneath, but you see what they’re trying to be: straight-laced, reliable news sites.
But there are times when straight-laced news gets it completely fucking wrong because in an attempt to be professional and provide ‘only the facts’ they end up stripping the story of the context that’s needed to understand it. Look at this stuffy article Sherdog just released on Jeff Monson’s arrest for a perfect example of this:
Authorities were called to the residence of Stephanie Trapani, 30, and detained Monson for “assault to a female” and “damage to property” following an alleged domestic dispute, said Capt. Hartman of Davies County Sheriff’s Office. Trapani and Monson had a “dating relationship,” said Hartman.
Trapani was also arrested for damage to Monson’s property. The Olympian reported Monday that Trapani had discarded Monson’s cell phone after finding out he was involved in romantic relationships with other women.
This is a classic case of what is wrong with the way information and news is distributed. Journalism 101 teaches you that when investigating any story, one needs to remain impartial and objective. To discover the truth about often confusing and conflicting stories, a reporter has to display no real preference to the information being fed to him. With enough research and hard work, the truth about “what happened” can eventually be told.
However, because today’s journalists are more interested in breaking news than in real investigation, a compromise has been created: major media outlets remove all context from any given situation and report only the raw facts. This absolves them from the responsibility of actually telling us what happened, and instead focuses on the myriad details that took place during the incident. This compromise is based on the idea that “fair news” ensures that people’s opinions will not be influenced by those of the journalist, and will instead be a result of readers and viewers creating their own interpretation.
But without context, how can anyone hope to know the truth about any news event?. In Monson’s case, how can Sherdog’s ‘straight journalism’ version of the story be considered fair treatment? Without context, all of our worst stereotypes and assumptions take over. As far as most people are concerned, Monson is a guy who assaulted his girlfriend. Even if that is the truth, there is no reason to believe so, since no one has actually bothered to investigate what the fuck happened. Straight journalism has completely eliminated context from the conversation, and the above “reporting” is a classic example of what occurs when ‘being professional’ is more important than explaining what really happened.