When I worked in the news department at WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio from 1978 to 1989 there were regular times staff wen on the air and interrupted scheduled programming to fund raise. Despite being a recipient of state and federal financing, we literally begged for money.
Our justification for people to call in with pledges varied. We offered quality programming. It was award-winning. In-depth. Objective. Couldn’t find it anywhere else.
It was embarrassing.
Don’t get me wrong. We did excellent work that I was very proud of. The reputation I built allowed me to get hired at WTMJ.
I daresay all media back then bent over backwards to be fair. That’s no longer the case in the business, but the players won’t admit how the industry has suffered, mainly because of self-inflicted wounds.
Last Friday WTMJ’s Steve Scaffidi interviewed Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Christian Schneider (a never Trumper BTW) who’s a regular guest on the program. During the interview Schneider said:
“There’s nothing newspapers love talking more about than the importance of newspapers.”
How very true.
Last week more than 300 news publications across the United States committed to an effort by the Boston Globe to run editorial on Thursday promoting the freedom of the press, in light of President Trump’s attacks on the media.
Then on Sunday the Journal Sentinel ran two columns totaling more than 1,380 words, in essence bragging about the incredible service they provide.
Of course they’re important. But in my view they’re just not as vital, or as good as thaey used to be.
The New York Times has been around since 1851, when it was known as the “New-York Daily Times.” The paper was there to cover the Civil War and the two “Great Wars.” It witnessed the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the Great Depression that followed it, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the fall of Richard Nixon.
The Washington Post is nearly as old, having been founded in 1877.
Both of these journalistic giants have been in business long enough to know how far respect for them as “keepers of the flame” has plunged in recent years, as each of them has permitted itself to turn hyper-partisan.
But now, in the era of President Donald Trump, both papers have dropped all pretext of objectivity. Both are now allowing their writers to engage in snark. For those uninitiated, Urban Dictionary explains that snark is a neologism formed by combining “snide” and “remark.”
The Times’s snarkiness is subtle, appearing in a column by op-ed writer Charles Blow that argues that the Trump presidency should be placed “on hold” essentially until the “gathering fog of suspicion” around him can be cleared. Apart from being totally unfeasible — the Constitution contains no option for invoking a “timeout” during a presidency — the recommendation is also extraordinarily one-sided: Barack Obama was enveloped more than once during his presidency by similar fogs, yet a search of the Times’s archives yields no such article by Blow or anyone else.
From the New American:
The mainstream media has completely betrayed the trust of the American people. ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN aren’t even feigning objectivity anymore. Instead of being the guardians of a free nation, they’ve become nothing but agenda-driven shills for leftist ideology. They are propogandists worthy of comparison to Nazi Joseph Goebbels or Pravda when it was an arm of the Soviet Central Committee.
Hillary Clinton likes to blame her election loss on so-called fake news, those click-baiting non-stories that appear on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But fake news isn’t the real problem. People are only attracted to sham stories because they no longer trust the media to tell them the real stories. Not only are stories on mainstream news reports biased; they are often mistake-ridden.
In the past few years, there are dozens upon dozens of examples of factual mistakes in the mainstream media. CNN has had to issue multiple corrections on their ongoing Trump-Russia collusion reporting. ABC’s Brian Ross was suspended for mistakenly reporting that President Trump ordered former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to make contact with the Russian authorities.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
So, not only are the mainstream media biased, they’re also incompetent. Headlines and scandalous snippets that the news shows can flash on chyrons trump facts, and they are what is important to the mainstream media. They eschew fact checking in favor of sensational headlines. They create salacious news narratives, meant not to inform but to sell advertising.
Meanwhile numerous polls suggest the public doesn’t have much faith in the media. The Christian Science Monitor examined the issue in, Why journalism is shifting away from ‘objectivity’:
One of the reasons for this lack of trust, suggests Professor Smith, a longtime leader in the Society of Professional Journalists and chair of the committee tasked to revise the organization’s ethics code, is the erosion of the value of nonpartisan, neutral reporting.
“Most people are willing to understand and listen to both sides, to the possibilities of compromise in both the liberal and the conservative management of government,” he says. “So why would any organization want to alienate a huge segment of the population by suddenly deciding that we want to punt on neutral reporting and instead feed the beast on the left and right?”
Why, professor? Because their bias is more important to them than objectivity.
From the Journal Sentinel:
Journalism is mission work, an honest cause beyond our eyes. Like nursing, teaching and police work, it’s built on a foundation of accuracy, trust, wisdom and character.
If only they’d practice what they preach.