I am pretty sure that you are just as startled as I on an almost daily basis to see, hear, and read news reports about scandals in the White House, investigations of President Trump, his Presidential Campaign members, his family, his businesses, presidential appointees, and the list goes on and on. Bad news is nothing new. Reports of investigations and scandals are nothing new. What is unprecedented in U.S. journalistic history (until recently) is the methods used by today’s “journalists” in reporting the news, and — most shocking — the methods they use in reporting the news. It is actually not reporting the news, it’s “filtering” the news.
I was a Journalism major in college. I wrote a column in the weekly university newspaper. It was a “column,” not a news section. A column is not comprised of hard news. It is comprised partially by applicable and current content of various interests, but is wrapped with the opinions of the columnist about those various interests. That is no longer the case today.
We have had the National Enquirer and The Globe and other grocery store rags for many years. We all at least sometimes glance at them when checking out. We want to read about Kim Kardashian’s justifications for shooting topless pictures, the latest fad diets, why Tom Cruise looks so young (the “real” Tom was spirited away by aliens and replaced by a robot), and Jennifer Aniston is still in love with Brad Pitt. These are not newspapers or magazines or in any way news. Granted today’s news is often really news. But American Journalism known for a couple of centuries as being impartial, professional, courteous, honest, adherents to the rules of Journalism in their news reporting, and simply giving the news in factual format to Americans through newspaper, magazine, radio and television, and online is NO MORE. Journalism died.
Once bastions of the news industry like the Washington Post, New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS Television have all seemingly joined the producers of the grocery store checkout fodder with their “reporting.” No longer do they report the news, giving us simple facts about all things news worthy. This generation of American journalists have taken ownership of HOW the news reaches us — not by what news distribution process it gets to us, but they now tell us exactly what each news tidbit means, what the source of those tidbits meant when whatever incident occurred that prompted the news story, and how and what we are supposed think and feel when they give us the news.
To make this process worse, news companies whose revenues are all driven by distribution, ratings, average quarter hour listenership/viewership, and what their competitors are producing are routinely and uncharacteristically hiding the fact that they no longer are giving us news and allowing Americans on our own to draw our own conclusions. In my hometown newspaper, it is a common practice for reporters at the top of stories to have a small picture of themselves when they report. Maybe for financial reasons, maybe for journalistic dishonesty reasons or some other reason, it has become common to have reporters also write editorial pieces that are disguised when published to look exactly like news reports: same little picture at the top of the story. In the “former” Journalism world, reporters were not the same people as those who wrote columns or editorials. Those people where not “reporters,” they were “columnists.” And, of course, journalistic integrity dictated that any editorial content was identified to the audience members so there would be no misunderstanding. (Believe it or not, every opinion is not necessarily the right or truth — they’re most often someone’s individual ideas) In our paper we often have sports reporters post a story that looks likr their news stories, but it is a column instead. Occasionally I have seen they will put the word in really small type below the picture that says “Opinion.”
Television news makes print media look like a church picnic. And television news hasn’t just changed, it’s morphed into a creature from a world far away. Honesty and integrity are gone. Formerly it was common for reputable news organizations to demand not just one verified source for a story, but two independent sources. Today we don’t ever hear about sourced stories. Why? Hardly any of them are from identified sources. Almost every story — especially all those about American politics — are from “unnamed” or “anonymous” sources. In real journalism, that would never have been accepted. In the 60’s and 70’s, a reporter or editor that ran with a story from “unnamed” or “anonymous” sources was immediately shown the door. Today’s journalistic ethics — especially in national newspaper and television news — is non-existent. The driving force for everything published: find some dirt on somebody important, no matter true or false. Make it juicy. The purpose: ratings, circulation, beating the competition to the marketplace. It is so comical that now — especially in television news — many network stories are actually stories that are originated by other networks to simply make sure they didn’t get scooped.
So what day did Journalism die? Tuesday, November 8, 2016, marks the day: the day of the 2016 presidential election. The death was a slow one. It actually began its downward spiral somewhere in the previous year when it became apparent that the likely GOP candidate was probably going to be Donald Trump.
So what was the impetus for the Journalism “Death Spiral?’ News producers, show hosts, newspaper reporters and editors, one day several weeks after the first debate realized something that scared them to death: Donald Trump actually said what he meant, had no care or concern for political correctness, was wealthy and therefore could and would run a financially independent campaign, and would NOT pander to the media. Imagine that: a national political candidate THAT WAS NOT FOR SALE! The media collectively went into a coma — for a VERY short while.
It did not take long for those who controlled the studio cameras and microphones, the printing presses, and internet news to find a way to get a grip on this renegade politician that was about to turn their D.C. party wagon upside down. They had to find a way to destroy Donald Trump BEFORE the election. So they individually and sometimes collectively began to do anything, say anything, and write anything to discredit Mr. Trump. It made it even worse when they discovered the one thing that sent Donald Trump to the White House: he and his honest, blue collar message resonated to the Heart of America and in the hearts of Middle Class Americans. Even though most would never be in a position to experience his massive wealth, most could much more readily identify with his brash, loud, bombastic, and arrogant persona than they could with the wealthy, insolent, arrogant, elitist and dismissive demeanor of Hillary Clinton. Hillary had a long and ugly public reputation. Trump did not.
The attempted take down began. He of course won the election and immediately and systematically began to do something surprising to D.C. and to Americans: he began to fulfill his campaign promises. Middle Class Americans fell further in love with “The Donald.”
But the media had not and have not given up. The volume of their rancor is more deafening today, more unsourced today, more nasty and untruthful than ever before. I will not waste your time to chronicle examples of the blatant disregard for the truth in stories, but we all know day after day, story after story — all nasty and negative about the President — are being exposed as untrue. And that drives the politically correct media into even deeper anger and despair.
Where do we go from here? Honestly, our only option is to let this all play through. Let them scream and shout and write and broadcast whatever they want to give to us. They think Americans are stupid and incapable to discern truth from fable and fact from fiction. They still believe the media are necessary to interpret the news to us because we cannot do it ourselves. And day by day they are seeing example after example of how Middle America is catching on to their evil methods and dishonest “reporting.” They are drowning in their cesspools of dishonesty and are being exposed quicker and quicker than before. The light is coming on. The cock roaches haven’t all scrambled for cover, but it is beginning.
Journalism as we’ve know it really did die November 8th. There’s a new version of Journalism developing. This journalist hopes and trusts that genuine, honest, integral reporting will come back to the industry. I trust Americans to see facts and interpret facts without any filters whatsoever. So does this President. I suggest that instead of watching evening news, interviews, talk shows, etc. with fear in your heart you trust in one thing: your fellow Americans. We are NOT stupid. We are intelligent humans who on the most part have a strong understanding of the truth. And we demand it from our leaders and those who give us the facts of the day for us to know. That’s what the media is to be and is to do….period.
In the meantime, join me in sitting back and watching the roaches scrambling around the kitchen. I am agreeing more and more with the President that the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, and ABC are “Fake News.” It’s going to be fun to watch them scramble for some credibility.
Make no mistake: they have NONE now.
2 thoughts on “The Day Journalism Died”
Please consider blogging on how news media outlets make their money, especially on-line. Increasingly, the outlets get paid from their advertisers based on their metrics for “Clicks”, “Click To”, “Click Through”.
I feel that most people don’t understand why the media puts shock-factor news headlines out there so that people click onto the stories and then they get better dashboard metrics. Follow the money, the method by which they get paid propagates bad behavior for the sake of selling advertisements. If everyone understands that every click matters toward selling advertisements, reasonable people will stop clicking onto fake news stories. When the advertisers dry up, tactics from the dis-honest media will have to change.
Great thoughts, Lee! I’ll get some factual information about revenue numbers, how ratings are computed, etc., and do a story.