Are journalists contributing to “societal idiocy?”

From this morning’s Muck Rack Daily regarding the recent controversial TIME magazine cover:

“The ridiculous and sensationalist magazine covers selected by the editors…are little more than glossy representations of a disturbing trend away from quality ‘Fourth Estate’ reporting, toward attention-grabbing gutter journalism – focusing less on thoughtfully objective coverage, and more on controversial grandstanding. It’s bad enough that the private individual is still caught up in the insecure desire to garner Twitter followers and Facebook fans, regardless the source or durability of said acquisitions. Now that journalists (some accredited, others self-anointed) are fighting for the same short-term attention, instead of working toward long-term acknowledgment, our entropic descent toward societal idiocy is all but assured. When you suck at a bitter teat, the milk is guaranteed to curdle in your stomach.” – Nicholas De Wolff, freelance writer

Oh really? I don’t disagree with the knock against the cheap sensationalism on display on that cover, but what exactly is wrong with a journalist accruing Twitter followers, Facebook fans, etc?

Do some people do it solely to boost their egos? Yes. Do some also do it to spread an important message, educate others, etc? Yes and yes. At its best, this is actually what reporters do. And this being the 21st century, they know that their audiences might not be seeking them out. So they have to seek out their audiences. And while social media can definitely be a place for attention whores and sycophants, let’s not conflate the medium with its users. We use the technology, it does not use us.

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