ISIS, the Russian jet, and the age of bad journalism

Russian Jet Crash ISIS

It’s very easy for me to embrace the information revolution that the internet in general and social media in particular has given to people such as myself. This has been a good thing for giving the “common people” the voice that they never had. However, it has also forced a huge influx of bad journalism for the sake of page views, headlines for the sake of controversy, and venting for the sake of using one’s voice.

This particular short piece is, unfortunately, another example of the problem, but it’s for a reason. You’re going to have to trust me on this one.

It all started with an article from The Daily Beast that caught my attention as it was intended to do.

There are so many ways in which this piece of journalism is humiliating for the writer and the publication. It’s a rant and not the type of rant with any righteous justification. In case you didn’t read it (and I don’t recommend that you should unless your goal is to lose IQ points as a result), here are the bullet points:

  • Nobody knows for sure yet why the Russian jet crashed.
  • Downing Street is premature in condemning the crash as possibly caused by ISIS.
  • They don’t have evidence because they haven’t shared any evidence.

The rest of the story is strange journalistic double-talk and lacks any real substance. If I didn’t know any better (and technically I don’t) I would say that this sounds a lot like the type of story put out by Russia’s massive propaganda machine to keep their people from pulling support for the efforts in Syria against ISIS.

The problem with the few semi-valid points is that in a geo-political sphere that includes ISIS and where citizens of a country must be protected by their government when it pertains to matters like travel security, the idea that British authorities are acting irresponsibly by not playing their hand by disclosing what they know is ludicrous. If they believe that their citizens are in danger, they are acting righteously. If they feel that giving out the information that led them to that conclusion would be detrimental to anything from the investigation to the perpetuation of ISIS propaganda, they should not release the information. This is foreign policy 101.

The point isn’t whether or not ISIS took down the plane. The point is that the story itself had absolutely no purpose other than to pose a feeble counter argument with no actual end goal or substance. What are we supposed to take from this? Did the British government act irresponsibly? While it’s very clear that they do strange things rather often, there is no reason to doubt their motives in this case.

If the writer has some financial stake in the tourist industry in Egypt, then I could see at least some justification for posting what he did. Otherwise, it was a waste of time to write and a bigger waste of time to read. That’s the state of online journalism today. There are simply too many amateurs in the wrong roles. His post would have been fine as a blog post on his personal site or on a dinky publication like this one. To put it on a major publication like The Daily Beast is a clear sign that “professional” journalism quality has sunk faster than blogging quality has risen.

Brian Molidor

Brian Molidor is Assistant Editor at The New Americana.