Tuesday, October 09, 2007

No Defense for the Indefensible
A media rant by one of the media

Katie O'Malley's column today, "News Shouldn't Be 'Tricky'", is just downright refreshing.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to defend members of my own profession. Though only a freelancer, I have always had a certain pride in my craft and felt a congenial camaraderie with the wordsmiths and reporters who can distill the stories of the day into finely crafted works of a thousand words or a pithy sound-byte on the evening news. I also admit to more than a little envy of those who have taken those gifts and propelled them into a career that actually pays the mortgage every month.

But that warm and fuzzy feeling is rapidly being replaced by disappointment and shame. Increasingly, after the weekly talking heads shows, I need a hot shower and lye soap. Fifteen minutes of watching Chris Matthews and even my parish priest can not Hail Mary me enough to get rid of the ooze that coats my psyche.


Years ago, when contemplating my own career goals, I read a study about students entering journalism school. The number one reason for choosing that vocation was, “I want to change the world.”

Robin [Wright] and Barbara [Starr], if you want to change the world, start a philanthropic foundation, run for office, teach in an inner-city school. But for goodness sake, spare me and mine from your sanctimonious approach to your endeavors. You are reporters, not diplomats or policy analysts. You job is about as tricky as collecting tolls. News happens, you report it. Done.

[Note: Italicized last names added by me...]

Bravo, Katie. It's a rare journalist honest enough to admit that their original "change the world" quest may have been good intent, but wise enough to know it is not the role of the media to control, brainwash and influence electoral outcomes.

Instead, journalists today cloud the boundaries between op-ed and news, engage in sensational and misleading headlines like a teaser trailer for the next Hollywood blockbuster. They take pride in broadcasting our every military plan to the enemies, demanding such information as our "right to know", and never caring that it affects our soldiers safety and success.

Add to that, research is apparently a lost art today. And the worst? Because they are protected by the 1st Amendment, they have no oversight or penalties for being patently irresponsible.

Lastly, another pet peeve... same stories, same talking points, all news channels. Pick 2-3 stores and innundate us 24/7 with Brittany, Paris or Lindsay (yawn), filling the time while they wait breathlessly for the next criticism from some Congressional elite, or question rigged poll results. Then it's a race to the galleys to report such drivel as as "fact" instead of the political, campaign driven manipulation it is.

The majority of the western press are dupes. Marionettes with their strings pulled by the pols - a trade off for getting future inside scoops.

But kudos to you, Katie girl. You have redeemed yourself, if not your profession.

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