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by Jon Burras
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The Death of Journalism
Once upon a time not so long ago, there existed journalism and there existed gossip. The two
were inextricably separated by miles of professionalism, centuries of history and generations of moral code. This long history of
separation was as clearly defined as oil and water keeping a safe distance from each other. A tabloid was a tabloid and hard news
came from respected journalists.
Tabloid journalism was inauspiciously developed by our friends
across the pond in Great Britain. Tabloid newspapers in Great Britain were sure to create a gossip story and it would be anyone's
guess as to its validity. The American version of tabloid journalism came to be known as the National Inquirer, which was often looked
down upon by real journalists and the stories were dubious at best.
Real journalism had always
contained a certain amount of respectability to it. As a real journalist you were expected to be fair minded to all sides in a story,
tell the entire truth and keep your own opinions out of it. You were a story teller in the third person and your opinion was irrelevant.
A good journalist was someone who could hide his likes and dislikes and was a neutral bystander. Authentic journalism was designed
to just observe and report what you saw. A good journalist was always able to do this.
last decade or so the lines have become blurred and it is hard to tell the difference anymore between gossip and news. True journalism
has died a painful death and we are left with a yellow journalism that is part gossip, part entertainment, part opinion and part sponsored
advertisements. Every now and again you might find a bit of journalism thrown in to throw off the viewer.
There is a tremendous wave of mistrust about the media these days. This mistrust has been slowly growing until it has finally reached
a pinnacle. This mistrust is not without warrant though. What many do not realize is that the mainstream media were the inventors
of "fake news" and now see themselves the victims of this phenomena.
You might remember the headlines
in 1948 "Dewey Defeats Truman" from the Chicago Daily Tribune the day after the presidential election in which the newspaper in its
rush to judgment, printed the winner as that of Dewey. We all know that Truman ended up winning the election but the newspaper was
left with egg on its face for rushing to print a story before the facts were all in. We have seen over and over again during election
cycles that media outlets spew out false and errant reports and results as they attempt to sway the voters with their one-sided reporting.
Fake news has also shown up as the media sold the public on the idea that Iraq had WMDs (weapons
of mass destruction). While the idea was invented by third party government entities, the media ran with the story and convinced the
public that war was justified. Reporters did not fact check their story before reporting and just went with what they were being told.
Hence, the United States was led into a costly war in Iraq because of fake news presented by the media.
We have seen over and over again in the last few years that media coverage has slanted racial issues so far to one side without ever
gathering all the facts. For instance, in several cases where a white police officer has fatally shot a black man, the media has rushed
to judgment and convicted the police officer of wrong-doing before all the facts have come in. It was later learned that the shooting
was justified and the media never took responsibility for its false reporting. Is it any wonder why the respectability of the media
has dropped to all time lows?
Many years ago respected journalists like Walter Cronkite would
read the news to his viewers of the facts that had transpired throughout the day. This included reports on the war in Vietnam, assassinations,
space missions, world invasions and other calamities. Cronkite just reported the facts as a good journalist should. Occasionally at
the end of a broadcast Cronkite and other noteworthy journalists would present an "opinion" piece that was framed in such a way where
it was distinct from the news. This was made clear that it was just the opinions of the reporter himself and had nothing to do with
the station or its affiliates.
Nowadays when you read or listen to reporters that is all you may get
is opinion with very little facts. Modern day reporters have free reign to interject their own opinion into a story as often as they
wish. These opinions are usually in line with the company party line. For instance, it is no shock to learn that the mainstream media
is predominantly leaning to the left. This includes most major television networks including CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, public television,
public radio and most newspapers from major cities. On the right, FOX and most talk radio (including religious radio and television)
counter this. The reporters of each network or newspaper will only mimic what is being said by the corporate policies.
Gossip prevails these days on the journalistic front. For instance, it is very common that a news agency not even send a reporter
out to cover a story. Instead, the news agency will spend entire segments reposting someone's social media post. The more controversial
the post the better the story. In this case you have famous people who are gossiping about gossip and the media is eating it up like
a hot fudge sundae. The rest of us are led to believe that we are getting news when in fact we are getting a string of gossip.
Media these days are often just outlets for corporate sponsored advertisements. For instance, some television stations have a Hollywood
report or entertainment section. These media outlets might also be part of a larger group of companies that have entertainment divisions
that make movies. When you hear the entertainment reporter reporting on a movie it is very common that you are just getting an advertisement
for one of the company's movie projects. This is just another way of product placement like when a soda company pays a movie maker
to have its product conspicuously placed in the movie for viewers to observe or when an athlete is being interviewed and there just
happens to be a bottle of Gatorade on the podium in front of him.
Media outlets are notorious
for never reporting the entire truth on matters. Instead, advertisers will often hand a script to a news agency for the reporter to
read. This could be information on a new drug or a new medical procedure that the advertisers wish the public to know about. It is
almost unheard of to hear a comprehensive story on the news about the dangers of vaccines. Since pharmaceutical companies have invested
so much advertising dollars into the media these companies will hold hostage news directors. News directors are reminded by advertisers
to never show their products (drugs and vaccines for instance) in an unfavorable light or all of the advertising money will go away.
In this way, reporting is just one sided and corporations will often control the content of what the public hears.
Gossip dominates journalism these days and there is very little actual news involved. Another celebrity divorce is mingled in with
a two cent rise in the price of gasoline per gallon over a thirty day period. Four ducklings are stuck in a storm drain often leads
the news or the fact that rain is on the way becomes breaking news. The news outlets are stuck in their model "if it bleeds it leads"
where the stories with the most drama and sensationalism receive the most coverage. The reality it that there is very little actual
news going on. Most of what we get is just gossip and drama.
The role of the media is not to
be a government watchdog group or to save the world. The role of the media is to make money for its parent companies and the way they
do that is through advertisers and direct sales (like when someone buys a newspaper). If a media outlet can mingle in gossip, drama,
sexualization, sensationalism and ridicule then it has more chance of attracting viewers. Panels of political pundits, expert witnesses
and flashy graphics are jut some of these new tools to make the selling of news more attractive.
The reality is that real journalism has now died and has been replaced with this dishonest and somewhat disrespectful army of gossip
hounds who have very little ability to tell a truthful and honest story. The role of a journalist might have sunk to the depths of
a gambling bookie or a street drug dealer. Respect and credibility for a once proud industry has been completely evaporated. It is
right for the public to question anything that comes from someone calling himself a journalist these days. Facts may not be facts
and "clearly" might not be as clear as one believes.
If Walter Cronkite could see his once proud
industry these days he would roll over in his grave. Unfortunately, you would never get a truthful account of this event but just
a lot of opinions, pundit gossip and one-sided story telling. In fact, you may never hear about it because a sponsor might have this
story edited out of a broadcast. Walter Cronkite might roll over in his grave at his disgust of what has happened to journalism but
the viewers might never even know about it.