mad in pursuit: greed & arrogance

2004 political season

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6.9.04 What Ever Happened to Journalism?

Every once in a while -- and increasingly -- I have to ask myself if there are any courageous people left in this world. I don't mean brave soldiers on the front lines of war -- of course they are brave. They are twenty years old and an officer is ordering them around and in a crisis something their mothers or fathers told them breaks through their still-maturing brains and they perform an act of courage.

No, I'm talking about middle-aged courage. Easy enough to risk your life at the age of twenty. But to risk losing your job at age 50 and giving up your precious lifestyle -- now that's a fate worse than death. To stand up for something you believe in, to speak the truth -- consequences bedamned -- where do I find those people?

I'm particularly annoyed at journalism these days. Aren't these the brash and bold people who'll do anything to get the story? Is Michael Moore really the closest we can come these days to Woodward and Bernstein? All we hear about are young reporters faking their stories and prestigious newsrooms getting sloppy about sources. And TV news is so ephemeral, does anyone really ever check anything? Reporters and networks are so terrified of losing their access to "White House officials" and their seats on Airforce One that they rarely ever do real investigative journalism and let dueling pundits provide the entertainment. Is CNN's Lou Dobbs the only newsman who doesn't mind telling a distinguished guest that their facts are wrong?

It's dreadful to think this is all simply the result of corporate consolidation of the media channels. From Yellow Times:

Virtually all forms of news media are owned by corporations. Increasingly, those are huge corporations with rapidly diminishing numbers. "Media concentration" has been raised and discussed for several years but there is little understanding of just how pervasive it is -- and how perilous. In these days, honesty in journalism is a privilege rarely exercised in the halls of corporate media except in those benign stories about kittens trapped up a tree who scamper down in a display of cuteness just as the firefighter's ladder reaches them.

Television news is becoming thinner and thinner. Even on the 24-hour channels -- pick a news angle, get some footage, repeat it endlessly, let some retired generals blab. Is there any alternative to watching idiots walk past a flag-draped box while people mutter endless pap about Ronald Reagan? Do we have to comb the internet for an antidote?

I'm rambling, but this seems like such an important issue... 





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