Saturday, April 4, 2009

Journalism Today: A Very Thin Quill

By Alan Caruba

Every month for well over twenty-five years I have received a copy of the “Quill”, a magazine by and for the members of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The April issue had only in-house SPJ advertisements; none by any vendors. And it was a very slim edition, some 35 pages devoted to things like the SPJ president’s message, an analysis of the coverage of the presidential campaign that exonerated journalists of any bias, and “Examples of Ethical Excellence.”

Back in December I penned a commentary titled, “Cheerful Thoughts at the Funeral” that took issue with comments by Dave Aeikens, the SPJ president and God knows I am not picking on him, but the opening line in his April message was, “If anything will keep the demand for news strong, it will be journalist’s ability to produce reliable, timely and accurate information while using proven ethical standards.”

There is a demand for news, but it is being met on the Internet and even more there is a demand for an interpretation of what passes for news or doesn’t get published as news in the mainstream media, in this case newspapers.

When nearly half of those polled say that global warming is the very last topic on their mind these days newspapers are still full of references to a climate event that is just not happening. The Earth has been cooling since 1998. The Sun for nearly two years is virtually without any sunspots—magnetic storms—and the real news is that the Earth is truly threatened by two outcomes of this, both of which could result in the deaths of millions through starvation as increasing cold weather deters crop growth.

Aeikens knows that newspaper circulation is shrinking and web site audiences are growing and he says so. The Society’s answer, however, is a series of town hall meetings to ask people why they no longer trust the local fish-wrap. This is just a complete waste of time. This is a willing blindness to the bias and poor reporting that have come to typify the mainstream press.

Let me take a shot at what the problem is. Could it have something to do with the appalling school girl crush that the mainstream media had on a certain Barack Hussein Obama and has now extended to his wife? Could the public resent having been convinced to vote for someone who is tripling the nation’s deficit, planning new taxes, and is so tied to a teleprompter that it’s already a joke?

Could the public be sick of endless articles on how to be “Green” or why they are to blame for not adding thousands of dollars of solar panels to the roofs of their homes? Or choose to drive traditional automobiles rather than hybrids? Or articles declaring that the primary sources of energy in America, coal, oil and natural gas, are “dirty” and the cause of a “global warming” that is not happening?

Could the public be angered to have been blindsided by a financial crisis that experts had been warning about for years, but whom the press largely ignored?

The thickest section of the daily I receive is the sports section and I never read the sports section. What is left is mostly wire service stories by the horridly biased Associated Press and some comparably silly stuff by Reuters. Everything else is feature news fluff.

My subscription runs out in mid-April. Since I get my news—and plenty of it—off of the Net, I have no need for my daily newspaper.

The SPJ is asking what their members did wrong or should try to get right. Maybe that’s what they keep asking each other in the newsrooms of the major networks and in CNN and MSNBC whose ratings are in the tank while Fox News rolls merrily along providing news that strives to be “fair and balanced.”

Fair and balanced. What a concept!


Carolyn said...

They just don't "get us". They will never understand us, no matter how much they believe they know best. They will never realize that folks who don't live in the big cities, and liberal coasts actually have brains to figure things out for ourselves. God Bless~ Thank you Mr. Caruba~

Guy said...

Unfortunately, while the mature ones among us have followed the demise of journalism in all it's forms, recognize it for what it is, and try to find our news and information from other unbiased sources, the rest of society today is another story. The middle age population (the TV generation) has been sucking up what the mainstream media has been spewing out for years, and the results are obvious. It's pretty hard to fault people for getting caught up in it really. It's so easy to sit down in your easy chair after dinner, flip through the channels, and conclude that what you see and hear from so many sources must represent reality. I remember when I saw the first live images coming to us from the Olympics and the war in Vietnam, and I found myself thinking how wonderful it was to be able to see what was happening around the world with the flip of a switch. Sadly, what was once a fantastic new window into the world has become nothing more than a mind control system. Remember when the "Kill your TV" bumper stickers became popular? We should have done it, right then and there. All we can hope for now is that the younger generations reject the biases of the mainstream media, take advantage of the internet and the many sources of information it provides, and try to formulate their own fair and balanced information stream. Then, we have to hope that some other system comes along to replace the internet before it falls victim to the same invasion of left-wing ideologies that TV and print have ....

libertyforusa said...

“If anything will keep the demand for news strong, it will be journalist’s ability to produce reliable, timely and accurate information while using proven ethical standards.”

How much can we read that 1)lead can be turned to gold, and 2)they are experts on the mining business so they are uniquely qualified to report on this "new" technology?

Why won't we believe there is value in that pyrite?

Rhinestones sure do glitter but the real thing dazzles, and sparkles.

These media people seem to think we are all fools all, the time!

Sadly however, there are quite a few suckers going through their tackle boxes at home right now, looking for a piece or two of lead.

Ayrdale said...

The situation is pretty much the same here in New Zealand, but with one major exception.

Newspapers and TV here excel at screening/publishing PC drivel and alarmist BS, but our weekly news magazine "The Listener" which for decades was the in-house journal of the socialist labour party, had a make-over as dwindling circulation hit home.

Its revival has prompted a subscription from me, just as the continuous dreariness of Time magazine will guarantee its demise...

Alan Caruba said...

I particularly regret the failure of both Time and Newsweek to even try to apply the most ordinary journalistic standards of accuracy and fairness. I have read neither for years and will soon drop my US News & World Report subscription as well.