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Star-Ledger Op-Ed - Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019

                                                                                                              Highlights from Killing Journalism:
killingjournalismcover.jpgData on the crippling loss of news professionals that indicates there are fewer working journalists in the United States than there were just a few years ago, a lot fewer. The Pew Research Center's annual State of the News Media revealed in 2017 that the number of newspaper jobs, in and out of the newsroom, had dropped from 66,490 in 2005 to 41,400 in 2015 - a 37 percent dive in only 10 years. 

U.S. Labor Department statistics show there were 38,790 jobs in news for reporters and correspondents in mid-2017, earning a median annual salary of $51,550. In 2005, there were 52,920 reporters and correspondent jobs in the United States. That's a loss of more than 14,000 jobs in just over a decade.


How right-wing media heroes James O'Keefe and Sean Hannity ran away for me when confronted with questions about their misleading reporting and false claims. Hannity twice!


How false balance, the growing practice of news outlets giving equal time and space to opposing arguments that are based on lies and myths -- from homophobic claims of pedophilia to anti-vaccination voices spouting false fears of ties to autism -- have helped spread inaccurate reporting and lead to recent increases in previously controlled diseases such as measles and Chicken Pox.


How the Internet has had a bittersweet impact on news with a positive expansion of options for coverage and instant reporting tools for many, but also producing a deep cutback in advertising revenue for traditional outlets as well as allowing a vast array of false and poorly-sourced "news" sites.


How the increased demand for instant news to beat competitors has sparked a rise in false and misleading reports -- from inaccurate accounts of the Boston Marathon bombing to blown Election Night calls to overhyped medical fears based on limited or exaggerated reporting.


The reasons beyond the rapid abuse of "breaking news" in most cable reports, as well as many traditional outlets that throw the term around like a frisbee at summer camp; most of the time without any new information being reported.


Why news outlets overcover stories on weather, celebrity and fear-based news and ignore more pressing problems with the environment, infrastructure, true medical issues and state and local news - each of which affect more people than Kim Kardashian or the latest hurricane. Such an approach leads to people fearing a rare mass shooting at their local school more than the true dangers of gun violence - suicide.


How the near extinction of ombudsmen and other reader helpful public editors are keeping readers and viewers more in the dark and adding to an already fragile credibility issue, and that it's becoming more and more difficult for journalists to get pubic records, credentials for events and legal defense protection. Not to mention news person safety worldwide, which has seen an increase in violence against reporters and editors with more murders of news people globally in recent years.


But some hope remains with the growth of non-profit news outlets that have neared 200 in number in recent years, several winning Pulitzer Prize accolades and partnering with traditional media to provide some of the best reporting in the country.

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