Just what IS a media whore? Unfortunately, in my opinion, this term applies to just about every journalist that covers a particular industry exclusively: rock music journalists and sports broadcasters and writers are the ones that I am most concerned with since these have been the two major areas of my personal concern over the years. However, they exist in other industries as well.
Why the term media whores? Because these people, by the very nature of their jobs are journalists yet they do not follow established journalistic practices. The biggest deviation involves their objectivity, specifically the fact that they are tasked with reporting on an industry that also supports them and the medium they work for. They purport to be objective sources of information about their respective industries but in reality they’re more shills for their industries than objective media. And because of the nature of their relationships with the industries they cover they’re pretty much forced into the types of relationships they have with these industries.
For example, Bob Costas, formerly of NBC Sports recently revealed why he is no longer covering the NFL. He was critical of the NFL’s public position on violence in the sport and their actual practices regarding injuries and also their acknowledgement of the real problems that they are loathe to admit to. I happen to personally think that this issue is rather overblown but maybe I’m wrong. Whoever is right, though, is not important. What is important is that the NFL doesn’t like to be challenged on this point and so Costas was forced out because the league doesn’t like what he said.
So you have an industry that is supposed to be reported on objectively yet can influence what the media is permitted to say about them. Is this objective reporting? No, of course not. But what can be done about it? The broadcast media pay vast amounts for the privilege of broadcasting these games and making a boatload of money doing it. Are they going to jeopardize this relationship over journalistic integrity? Again, no, of course not.
Rolling Stone (and many other publications) have been covering the music industry for over 50 years. How critical are they going to be of the artists whose record companies support them? And by support we’re not just talking about advertising for their products, although this is certainly part of it, we’re talking about access for editorial content, numerous perks for writers and editors and many other benefits including tickets, albums, etc. I know firsthand because I was a member of the music media for a number of years.
If you’re a media outlet are you going to bite the hand that feeds you? Can you afford to bite the hand that feeds you? The answer is no. And therein lies the problem. This is a far-reaching topic and more posts are needed to delve into it properly so look for more on this subject in the future.