Crowdsourcing is lazy journalism? Maybe, but who wants hard news, anyway?

The tastes and demands of the public change with the times. And these times are troubled; who wants to hear a bunch of factual statistics and downer realities when, somewhere out there, some dude is dropping a bunch of Hershey's Kisses attached to tiny homemade parachutes from a hot-air balloon onto the wedding of an ex-girlfriend whom he still loves? That's gold! You know what's not gold? "Old White Guy Exercises Ill-Gotten Power to Affect Millions Who Don't Know Or Care They're Getting Boned." I mean, really. It's been done to death.

It would be different if things were actually going on about which the public needed to know. If there were a war on, or if the nation were on the verge of bankruptcy, or if legislation were in the pipe that could conceivably change the lives of a majority of the citizenry; things like that. But that shit happened, like, two weeks ago, right? And it sucked, so it's perfectly understandable that America might need a break for, oh, let's say the rest of the life of the republic. We don't need the latest mortality reports from the Middle East. We don't need to know where the candidates for upcoming non-presidential elections stand on various issues. (We already know how we're going to vote — for the candidate who agrees with us on that one issue nearest our dearest parents' viewpoint.)

Maybe, if there were other outlets where we could find out about celebrity relapses and the day-to-day lives of people just like us, we'd still need hard news. What if there were a bunch of non-journalism-related public diaries with no allegiance to hard-news protocols, offering sarcastic pop-culture commentary that relates what is technically news, but doesn't hew to the traditions of quote-unquote real journalism?

Somebody should do that. On the Internet, maybe. Could be really big.

In the meantime, it's unfair to criticize news outlets for bending a little in their efforts to cope with changing times and shifting informational demands.

Besides, if we really need good old responsible, unbiased, well-researched world news delivered without all the slant, advertiser pressure and party-line toeing, we can always turn to cable TV.

In early January, New York media-and-culture pulsefinder ran a couple of posts on the subject of lazy journalism. Chief among today's lackadaisical newswriters' offenses, apparently, is "crowdsourcing," or using social networks such as Twitter to solicit quotable anecdotes for softcore personal-interest features. You know, asking the world if anybody ever grabbed a bag off the airport luggage conveyor that looked like theirs but wasn't, or if anybody's dog ever barked the family out of a dead sleep when it smelled fungus turning to fire inside the walls, or whatever.

The message was that these journalists should be cultivating knowledgeable sources about important news, rather than begging the huddled masses for a ready-made story about someone who once made a crepe that looked a little like Roy Orbison.

And now there's all this talk about Pulitzer Prize-winner Alex S. Jones' book Losing The News. It's about how, as the old-school news industry struggles both to participate in and compete with new media, fact-based watchdog journalism is being crowded out by gossip reporting, biased presentation, fluff, personality-driven delivery, thinly veiled advertorial and the kind of opinionated, attitude-laden superficiality represented by stuff like, well, this column, really.

Frankly, I don't see the problem.

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