Advocacy journalism: Volcanoes are going to kill us unless we spend money, now!

Advocacy journalism: Volcanoes are going to kill us unless we spend money, now!

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This is called advocacy journalism:

A thicket of red tape and regulations have made it difficult for volcanologists to build monitoring stations along Mount Hood and other active volcanoes.

Source: We’re Barely Listening to the U.S.’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes – The New York Times

Fear! Controversy! We are all going to die unless we do something! Reads like a public relations propaganda campaign from the USGS to lobby Congress to spend money on better volcano monitoring and possible changes to the Wilderness Act.

Regardless of whether this is valuable or not, the volcanoes will do what they do and we cannot stop them.

Advocacy journalism is a fancy way of saying we like producing propaganda news articles intended to persuade you to adopt our agenda, sometimes with the implied subtext “because we are smarter than you and know what is best”.

Advocacy journalism is a genre of journalism that intentionally and transparently adopts a non-objective viewpoint, usually for some social or political purpose. Because it is intended to be factual, it is distinguished from propaganda. It is also distinct from instances of media bias and failures of objectivity in media outlets, since the bias is intended.

That definition is not correct as propaganda can be entirely factual and such articles are frequently non objective and biased. A proponent of advocacy journalism standards even says journalists should not give opponents equal time!

Many journalists also view advocacy journalism as propaganda messaging and opinion and is unclear why others in the profession attempt to justify it as noble and unbiased.

Advocacy journalism is straight up propaganda messaging, justified by a practitioner’s viewpoint that such propaganda is for a noble cause (in the eyes of the practitioner). Indeed, the purpose of advocacy journalism is to get you to adopt someone’s agenda – the very definition of propaganda messaging.

I live on the side of an old volcanic butte and a short distance from my home, can see an extensive line of Cascade volcanoes including Bachelor Butte, Three Sisters, Mt Jefferson and Mt Hood. Our local newspaper editor was just replaced and the new editor says he wants to do more advocacy journalism … in other words, more propaganda rather than reporting.

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