The striving for ‘juicy narratives’ is the biggest mistake of current news media. Their attempt to copy the success of Hollywood dramas by creating narratives has destroyed their credibility. It has put incentives on the wrong aspect of a reporter’s work. Instead of requiring well checked facts the editors are now asking for confirmations of preconceived tales:
What is clear is that The Times should have been alert to the possibility that, in its signature audio documentary, it was listening too hard for the story it wanted to hear — “rooting for the story,” as The Post’s Erik Wemple put it on Friday.
Callimachi is far from the only one guilty of creating fake news to fulfill her editors demand of narratives. The four year long coverage of ‘Russiagate’, the fairytale collection of made up connections between Donald Trump and Russia, was full of such. The editorial push towards narratives is rooted in the desire to create clickbait and to generate a social media echo around the reporting. That may be profitable in the short term but it is also a guarantee for a long term failure.
False of hyped narratives will over time get debunked. People then lose trust in the media that provided them with the fake news. That again will cause a long term loss of readership.