American Journalism: Returning to Our Roots
I heard some clever counsel one day, when East Idaho Flame was still in the dream stage. It was this: If you want to start a business, don’t reinvent the wheel. Find other people who are doing something similar, and ask their advice. “Sounds smart,” I thought, so I started looking around the web and found some sites that had things I wanted to imitate. I wrote to one woman, asking some specific questions about her “blog.” (The word blog was included in the company’s name.) Boy, was that a mistake! Without answering any of my questions, she informed me that it was not a blog; but a professional news service with professional journalists. She then asked me a question of her own: Are you a journalist? I wrote back, apologized for the misnomer, explained that I am not a journalist; but stated that I would be grateful if she could find any time to answer my questions. She’s a busy woman; I guess she didn’t have time.
Still I am grateful. As it turns out, the WordPress plugins that this woman could have informed me about were relatively easy to find and understand. Her question was ultimately more important than mine: “Are you a journalist?”
Actually, I have wanted to be a journalist since I was a child. But these days I don’t see much honor in the job. I watch the biased journalists of today twist stories, lie in their headlines, and gloss over the important details if they mention them at all. American journalism has fallen from grace, and the profit and loss statements of the biggest names in media show it. The times have placed them in a life or death struggle, yet they persist in their old ways. Insanity? While the shoe may fit, I don’t think that’s the problem here.
They are certainly not strangers to the old business idea of adapting. You can read the New York Times digitally on multiple devices, and the HuffPo is free online, but still they have neglected the most vital element to their survival: Reporting the Truth! How are they missing this obvious point?
I believe the answer lies first in a gross misunderstanding of their basic job description and secondly in a cherished delusion that the American population contains enough dolts to supply them with an adequate readership. They have filled their papers with distractions, spin, and bias so obscene it leaves me disgusted and bewildered at the drought of integrity in their vocation. Anyone who dares contest their veracity with a showing of the truth, they label troublemakers and fear mongers. If journalists are learning this fraud at universities, then I don’t need or want their stamp of authority. For I only desire to find the truth and share it with my neighbors.
How did the media fall to this pitiful state? They have abandoned Ben Franklin’s journalistic vision of expanding public morality and enlightenment. Instead, they find delight in misleading their audiences and using entertainment to distract them before reason can set in. How can so many journalists today dismiss the grand purpose of their calling?
Whatever their reasons–be they apathy, incompetence, or just plain villainy–in the end the media establishment will undo itself. We the People will not bow to their rubbish, but will stand sentry duty ourselves if need be.
So, am I a journalist? No! I am a thinker, a reader, a writer, an honest person, a proud Idahoan, and an American. I believe one person can change the world, and history seems to agree. However, the good news is, WE are not limited to just one person. So now it’s my turn to ask a question of you: From one of my favorite picture books by Robert Lopshire, Put Me in the Zoo, “What good are you? What can you do?”
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