"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

so now what do we do?

Having spent most of the last 30 years as a journalist and editor I am now wondering why I didn't go and do something useful like become a telephone sterilizer or couch insurance salesman
No one cares about journalism anymore, it was just a fad left over from the 70s. If Woodward and Bernstein uncovered Watergate today, Bill O'Reilly would be on TV demanding to know why they hate America and the Washington Post would likely fire them for embarrassing the newspaper with their crazy theories that the president could do anything wrong. No one cares about facts or truth anymore, especially the "news media." At least 50% of the editorial copy of any newspaper is just advertising in disguise, telling you which movie to see, which diet to try, which sports jersey to buy or game to watch, which celebrity is hot, what event is coming up, which charity is trying to raise money to do something the government should doing but won't because it might boost your taxes a nickle.

It is all marketing and propaganda.

Crime stories are just there to make you afraid to leave your house, at least until you read the story on page nine about the 37 ways your house could kill you. Political reporting is mostly opinion these days and and since education and experience don't mean anything anymore, a seasoned political reporter's opinion is not considered to be any more valid than that of a semi-literate 20-year-old with nice tits and blonde hair, as long as she wears the smart-girl glasses. And if you disagree, you are an elitist.

But what about the importance of the fourth estate? The public's watchdog? No one gives a shit.  My hometown daily went under a year ago and no one really misses it except the people that used to work there. Because no one cares what city council does, as long as the taxes don't go up too much and the garbage is still collected. What percentage of people voted in the last municipal election? Can you name three members of your city council? Are you outraged by police violence or government corruption or neglect? Great, good for you. Enjoy the endorphin rush, because that is all that outrage is going to get you. No one else cares and even if they did it wouldn't matter. Go ahead and protest, demonstrate in front of city hall, block traffic, commit civil disobedience and get arrested or start a riot if that is what it takes. At best, the government will appoint a commission to put together a committee to form a panel to launch a study into the best way to do as little as possible until the next shiny object comes into public view.

Newspapers and other media can't hold anyone's feet to the fire any more, they are simply written off as the "lying mainstream media" by politicians and the public alike. People don't want to read a well-researched, carefully sourced investigative report, they want to see a Facebook meme that confirms what they already believe. How else do you explain why half of America still thinks Barak Obama is a Muslim born in Africa? How else do you explain the widespread fear of vaccines, genetically modified crops or wifi. How else do you explain climate denial, natureopathy, homeopathy, essential oils, horoscopes,  psychics and "reality" TV?

 Fear and flattery are what sells, not truth. Because if truth matters, how do you explain Donald Trump? 

Most, if not all, newspapers and real news outlets (I do not include propaganda operations like Brietbart or the World Net Daily) took Trump to task daily for his offensive statements and bald-faced lies. The Toronto Star's Daniel Dale, fresh from covering the human dumpster fire that was Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, filed a daily list of falsehoods uttered by Trump (I think the record was 31 in one day) and yet voters who wanted their ignorant prejudices confirmed lapped up his every word like manna from troll heaven. The entire GOP platform for several years now has mostly consisted of whatever they think will piss off imaginary "liberals,"  Trump just got rid of any actual policies and replaced them with "Trust me, I will have the best policies. The best! Believe me!" No one cared that he lied constantly. Some even considered it a plus. Thousands of man-hours and barrels of ink were expended in an effort to make sure everyone knew Trump was a lying sack of crap but in the end, no one cared. The GOP, as is their way, did their best to suppress the vote, but they needn't have bothered really -- only a little more than half of the roughly 200 million American registered to vote bothered to cast a ballot, and Trump got about 60 million votes.

Newspapers are just not influential any more. Every major newspaper in the United States endorsed Hilary Clinton. The only "newspaper" that endorsed Donald Trump was The Crusader, the house organ of the Klu Klux Klan.

 How do you explain that to a journalism class without handing out job applications for McDonalds at the same time?

Thirty years of trying to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable and where has it gotten us?

Is it too late to get one of those sweet telephone sanitizer gigs or get into the exciting world of couch insurance?