TED Conversations

Debra Smith


This conversation is closed.

Where is the investigative journalism of the past? What happened to the free press which challenges PR and special interests to bring truth?

Why is it that there are fewer and fewer journalists and fewer jobs for journalists and yet we are starving for unbiased news reports? Where are the intrepid investigative journalists who do not just write articles from press releases but check out the facts and uncover the truth?

Why is it that Wikileaks had to bring us the truth instead of journalists?
Why is it that the news is so edited that we need TEDster Julia Bacha, a Brazilian film maker to tell us about the nonviolent actions of the Palestinians?

I recently read a book called Deadly Spin. It exposed the role of PR executives in influencing media to the detriment of the average person while promoting a climate designed to produce greater profit for those who pay them (like tobacco companies, HMOs and others.)


Closing Statement from Debra Smith

Over the course of this discussion, we learned that there are great examples of investigative journalism, but they are few and far between and they are often no longer reporters at all. People like Misha Glenny who reported on the superhacker are shining examples of their profession and film makers like Julia Bacha seem to be taking over the lion's share of investigative reporting on the nonviolent actions of the Palestinians. Where did we hear from both of those people? Right here at TED so it is clear that TED is providing a service for humanity that we can find almost nowhere else.
"There was a time when the journalists stood as watchmen for democracy. A healthy 4th estate ( free press) is absolutely essential to a healthy virbrant democracy. It's the press who are supposed to have our backs and inform us about what we need to know. Public awareness and knowledge of the banking scandal outfall is minimal..very little coverage leaving everyone in the dark about what happened, how affects them and what is being done to make sure it never happens again.Without investigative journalists independently providing their duty as the fourth estate, there is no major societal force to counteract the things that are killing humanity." Lindsay

It is very difficult to get the facts and that is why journalism used to be such a revered and cheered profession. I wonder though, is it more dangerous than digging diamonds, fighting disease or working for the UN? It may or may not be more dangerous but it is just as or more vital a service for humanity. There is a quote that says: My people perish for lack of knowledge. Without the facts our governments are making flawed decisions that put millions of human lives at risk. Groups with vested interests against the good of the majority of citizens have far too much influence in our democracies. Vive la free press!

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  • Sep 10 2011: It's because you can find a lot of formerly concealed information online, without any serious investigation. Investigative journalism has now been replaced by gonzo media and web leaks.
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      Sep 10 2011: Interesting point, Nikita. There is so much information on line but there is a correlated problem. Much of what is on the internet is questionable and sometimes inflammatory. For example. if you enter 'vaccinations' into Google the majority of the items that pop up are not credible. Fear mongering is rampant. Years after the information which caused such a panic against vaccinations was discredited, completely proven to have been falsified, the sites are still propagandizing against one of the best things that we can do for children and for society.

      I am hoping that we will see a resurgence of the type of truth seekers and intrepid fearless journalists who once blew the liars in the public arena out of the water with words and facts.

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