I believe real journalism has fallen. Or has at least taken a sabbatical. And the people that think they are “journalists” seem to be lacking a spine. Take for example the White House Press Corp. Will hard hitting questions and challenge ever return? Taking a cue from the Kingston Trio,
“Will they ride forever through DC streets and hallways, (if so)
They’re the folks that will never return.”
Where has the Fourth Estate that Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of so glowingly of in Democracy in America gone? That civic institution promoting liberty and disseminating political knowledge. That power so adroitly wielded to inform the people from the cities to the frontier, it became part of the emerging country’s DNA.
In an earlier article, I referenced the 1940s Hutchins Commission which was to “investigate the freedom, function, and responsibilities of the major agencies of mass communication at the time.” (Library documents, University of Chicago) Their report concluded:
“First, the importance of the press to the people has greatly increased…as an instrument of mass communication. At the same time (its development) has greatly decreased the proportion of the people who can express their opinions and ideas through the press. Second, the few who are able to use the machinery of the press as an instrument of mass communication have not provided a service adequate to the needs of society.Third, those who direct the machinery of the press have engaged from time to time in practices which the society condemns and which, if continued, it will inevitably undertake to regulate or control.” Poynter, 3/27/2015
And that was in the 1940s. Now with the internet, radio and television’s national and international reach, we have seen it become, in many instances, more adversary than benefactor. The journalists we once so admired have now seemingly become talk show hosts. That is not to say the earlier “newsmen” did not have their prejudices, but I think by and large they did facilitate the democratic process.
Now however, the main stream media seems to editorialize and propagandize rather than create a public forum. From Russia collusion to Covington high school racism to Georgia’s Jim Crow voting laws—all false. NY Post, 6/12/21 But all embellished at the time though bereft of facts. And we sit and nod our heads. The old adage of television news, “If it bleeds, it leads” describes this fear-based news programming. And whether its true or false depends on what you’re willing to believe.
But where is the boundary between lies and truth? Difficult to tell isn’t it? For if all the media basically uses the same wording, and repeats it multiple times, then whatever point they’re making becomes believable, at least for awhile. Look for example at “Sleepy Joe’s” “uniter” campaign from the basement. The main stream media continually reported positively on how “Moderate Joe” would usher the adults back into government. Doesn’t matter if the adults are at best unqualified and at worse ignorant of what they are asked to do. But Joe was labeled as a POTUS for ALL Americans. And, without looking at what he did in the past, millions obviously believed the lie. Or maybe millions hated Trump. Or maybe it was Party over Ticket. But whatever, they allowed a wrecking ball to potentially destroy our country, our values, and our culture.
So “If it bleeds, it leads” is now co-joined with “Political agendas lead” and real journalism has become more lapdog than watchdog. And the Hutchins Commission was right, those who control the machinery control the message. And perhaps that’s what’s wrong with journalism today
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