The Media Blog: This message is for the Nigerian Twitter Outrage Machine 

Because every twenty-something-year-old on Twitter is now a media critic, knowing everything about the ethics of journalism, how stories should be told and what the standards have always been, it is important to get a reminder than an Outrage Machine is not the same thing as journalism standards checker.

To many of the people who find it easy to get retweets by decrying what a so-called ‘shame’ this or that story is, simply because they don’t like it or like the way it is told, actual media critic, Jack Shafer has a simple message … grow the hell up.

This is a piece about your counterparts in America. But Nigerian Twitter, it is also for you:

Then why all the pre-show uproar? Isn’t the press supposed to throw the disinfectant of light on the darkness? How, exactly, can you examine a newsworthy subject—and like it or not, somebody the president talks to and cites is newsworthy—without giving him some sort of a platform? There’s an unspoken assumption that instead of reporting on the politically deformed—people like Sen. Joe McCarthy, George Lincoln Rockwell, Gov. George Wallace, Charles Manson, Timothy McVeigh, Alex Jones, and others—the press should quarantine such figures from readers’ and viewers’ eyes lest their contagion spread.

Maybe this is the way they did journalism in the former Soviet Union, but American journalism has never operated like that. We don’t avoid gnarly, complicated stories because they’ll hurt somebody’s feelings. We don’t abandon free thought and press freedom just because there’s an outside chance that a piece of journalism like Kelly’s might fall to the advantage of a sordid manipulator or a demagogue. Nor does the unspeakable pain the Sandy Hook parents have endured because of Jones mean we must cleanse the news sphere of coverage that might further upset them.


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