(Cross-posted at DailyKos, Booman Tribune and My Left Wing.)
Here’s a call to the media, more specifically newspapers, where I am more at home: forget the balancing act, forget the he said/she said approach, which takes up an entire story about OPO, Other People’s Opinions.
Tell me, dear saints in heaven, WHAT HAPPENED – HOW AND WHY. And, it follows, WHAT IT MEANS TO ME.
Now, you can’t do all that if you are toddling between the Democrats and the Republicans, or the liberal and the conservative think tanks. YOU are the one being paid to THINK.
Forgive me for shouting in CAPS; it appears that no one is listening, particularly the biggies, the heavyweights like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, the large-city newspapers in the USA.
There’s more …
With all this he said/she said, it is YOU who are creating the cultural/political divide. YOU repeat it ad nauseum, just as you repeat the smears against the Democrats, ad nauseum. It is YOU who promulgate gossip from all your anonymous sources.
Just to let you know, WE, your readers are not dumb. We see right through you and the backlash is coming. The Washington Post is getting the flak right now from hundreds and hundreds of supporters and delighted readers of Dam Froomkin’s blog on the Post’s Web site. Now an editor, or was it the ombudsman, tossed out the label “liberal” and that was supposed to tell all?
HEY, Froomkin’s calls for accountability are NOT political, they are journalism. You remember that, don’t you?
I wonder if you do.
A little personal history:
I started out inflamed with a passion for newspapers in the late 50s, early 60s and my first reporting job was for an independent newspaper (where Ben Bagdikian had also worked). I thought these people were God’s Apostles: They spoke truth to power! They spoke FOR ordinary men and women – TO the government.
Through the years and a stint in J-grad-school in the 70s, I noticed the shift. No more fire; instead, social responsibility. The responsibility of the press – not the government – became the focus.
My intermittent career developed into my sole means of support after a divorce. I became a re-entry woman and found a job with a small community newspaper with fire, where I worked with passion (what else sustains you in the face of low salaries and overwork?)
The small newspaper with fire was bought by a businessman and eventually took on the sheen of corporate ownership, albeit on a small scale.
Disillusioned, disheartened and just plain sad, I retired.
Retirement gave me the time to read political blogs and what an education I received in 2003 – along with daily disappointment in the performance of the press. As we went to war, I mourned the death of the “free press” I once knew and loved.
What happened? I read a lot – books, online articles, blogs, magazines. But the real wrap-up, the one I had been longing for was found on Consortium News by Robert Parry:
“Rise of the `Patriotic Journalist'”
I urge everyone to read this history of media manipulation. It didn’t happen overnight with President George W. Bush. It’s a shameful history, and it only happens in the face of silence and accommodation.
This is my rant, my first diary. Robert Parry spelled it out, gave words to what I have felt intuitively. The courage, the imagination, the fire in my old text “The History of American Journalism” with a slight rebirth during Watergate, is not found in corporate newsrooms.
Well, they are all hearing from me these days. I don’t miss a chance to write an ombudsman, a letter to the editor, an e-mail to a reporter. Join me, please, and make your voices heard. And don’t let another Judith Miller get by you.
My next campaign is to petition the big three newspapers (plus Helen Thomas) to boycott the White House press briefings. There’s no news there, so why are they all cooperating in this Potemkin Village? Can you image the support of the American public if a newspaper conducted a running campaign, a box on its front page, refusing to attend the briefing until all its questions are answered (and published) to their satisfaction?
And, if I could have a fantasy come true, I’d found a J-school, where the operative word is “intrepid,” and the modus operandi is “look under your noses.” I wouldn’t even insist on a “nut graf.”
As an aside, on the Consortium News home page, a fund-raising appeal is posted. It doesn’t look good for the year’s end goal. If you can spare a Christmas gift to the needy (and deserving), check out the Web site and make a donation.
I am not a relative or acquaintance of Parry’s, and I have no ties to Consortium News. I just agree with his closing – a warning that the stakes are high — “will journalists decide that confronting the powerful with tough questions is the true patriotic test of a journalist?”