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Self-selection can explain the credibility crisis of the traditional press

With this pandemic, the weakened credibility of the traditional press takes another blow. An easy way to notice this is to look at the comments on the news of sudden deaths, heart attacks and clots in the brain: there will always be those who jokingly write that this is the new normal. Given that most of the traditional press has been banging the bass drum saying, despite the package inserts, that innovative vaccines made in months are safe and effective, the portal commentator uses the frequent news of young deaths to give journalists a stomping ground.

I must wear the portal commentator shirt here. I open this type of news to see if anyone has already commented that this is the new normal and give my thumbs up. As I wore the shirt of portal commentator, I must also say that I believe that there must be powerful people in cahoots to make a lot of money with these vaccines.

Thus, I must also say that I believe in conspiracy. It is enough to see that part of the traditional press has lost its modesty and organizes scientific dissemination events sponsored by the laboratory, which, for me, is a clear ethical conflict: we are in an environment conducive to widespread corruption. Would you prefer me to talk about corruption rather than conspiracy? Patience. The South American corruption mega-scheme aimed at lining the pockets of red dictatorships was a secret conspiracy. Conspiracies exist, and great corruption schemes require conspiracies to be carried out.

It does not follow, however, that each silly story explains why each journalist received a whiskey box full of ballots, or that each journalist is an ideological agent conscious of wanting to pour water into the reader’s beer. Now I take off my portal commentator shirt: conspiracies are insufficient to explain the behavior of silly journalists who repeat narratives.

Self-selection

I I could start by talking about the faculties of journalism, and the portal commentator, perhaps versed in the theories of Olavo de Carvalho, would say that universities force students to be left-wing activists. True true. Or true most of the time, since anyone can pretend to be an adept of progressive dogmas and deceive the professor until they get their diploma. But there is something even earlier, which is self-selection. It is something quite intuitive even for those who are outside the public university: the courses have entrance exam students with different profiles, and, therefore, the freshman classes have different profiles that vary according to the course. Is the boy who wants to study Social Sciences the same as the boy who wants to study Law? Both are human. I, who was a university professor and taught subjects called “over-the-counter” by the philosophy department at UFBA, was a privileged observer of this type of difference. Philosophy is a department that teaches a lot of freshman classes from other courses. For this reason, the collegiate bodies of the other courses arrive at the desk of the Philosophy department and request the subjects: Introduction to Philosophy, Aesthetics I, Logic I and Philosophy of History. I ran away from Aesthetics; the rest, I gave.

Some differences were explainable due to the competition. Law freshmen had much better Portuguese than all other courses. My explanation for this was the high competition in the entrance exam. However, History and Economics were much less competitive than Business, and yet the students scored ten to zero in writing. The explanation I could give for this is in line with what I saw in the classroom as a student: people who want a theoretical course in humanities in particular seemed to me to be more dedicated to intellectual activities than the administration entrance exam, which, for me, was the guy who doesn’t know what he wants to do, doesn’t have any intellectual aspirations and enters the university through an inertial vector. Saying “I’m going to take the entrance exam for Economics” was a better selection mechanism for writing than the higher competition for the Administration entrance exam.

I chose writing as a parameter because it is objective. If it were in the interest of students, I would put those in Economics and History at the top, without those in Law. From what I saw, these, most of the time, were in the subject just to comply with the schedule and get their diploma. No teacher likes to teach in this climate; thus, it is natural that my identification is greater with the students who decided to take theoretical courses like mine.

Still on the quality of the classes, I was positively surprised by the Executive Secretariat, who had classes in logic. The students had a very specific profile: they were 100% female, mostly composed of diligent and studious young women from the countryside. Their Portuguese gave students from the capital a ten to zero and they were not prone to cheating. I liked teaching them. The fact that I like to give logic weighed, but if it was something merely bureaucratic for them, it wouldn’t be good for me.

The human, the cirandeiros and the journalists

Let’s say now that you, reader, liked the History teacher’s classes and left high school wanting to change the world. Your course could be either History, since you liked your red professor very much, or Social Sciences, the noblest course, so to speak, aimed almost exclusively at the Academy. Your course will hardly be Philosophy – that ancient Greek thing. As a result, on my campus the dead flies were all from Philosophy and Museology, while the people from Social Sciences and History kept trying to make la revolución in election of DA, or become a councilor for the PSTU.

Now let’s say that you, reader, finished high school and want to save the planet not by the

revolución, but hugging a tree, eating quinoa, making a ciranda and using artisanal ecobags made by native peoples of the Xingu. Your course will probably be Biology, Agroecology – something else, and it’s not even in the humanities. I’m not saying that every biologist is a tree-hugging cirander. I’m saying that Eli Vieira, who studied biology, must have had a lot of tree-hugging fellow cirandeiro; I didn’t.

So, the million dollar question to understand a journalist’s mind is: what is the student of communication and journalism? At least considering my experience at UFBA, journalism students don’t care about la revolución. Instead, he wants to smoke marijuana (Facom’s nickname, Faculdade de Comunicação, is Faconha) and mate. Men take women according to their fluency in fashion beletrismo; the women select the bearded man with thick-rimmed glasses and a flowered shirt according to his ability to write bad poems like AMAR ELO CURA. In a word, if the guy wants to know how to write enough to get a woman based on the chat, he usually won’t go deep and do Letters; he’s going to do Journalism. By the way, if he doesn’t want to delve into anything at all and stay like that on top of everything, he can do Journalism. Journalism is the ideal course for those who want to affect depth even if it is superficial (which does not mean that everyone who chooses to do journalism has this profile).

I believe that the best way to attest to this is it’s the damn geek culture fad. Nerd culture serves to pose as a misunderstood genius just for being a late teenager with childhood hobbies . It’s a lot of investment in appearance accompanied by zero, nothing, nothing at all, in content. Well then: Journalism courses have legitimized this frivolity under the umbrella of “pop culture” or contemporary and treat it as a legitimate specialty.

Thus, I take the group of graduates in Journalism as a group especially prone to following herds to look good on tape. No need to give money or call in a small room. You don’t even have to have an ideology. To repeat advertising, just the desire to be tuned.

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