Superb self-examination of journalism today

A rare treat, this piece is, in that a working, professional journalist says what all of us “regular Joes” have been saying for years.

Editing Their Way to Oblivion: Journalism Sacrificed For Power and Pensions
By Michael S. Malone
The traditional media is playing a very, very dangerous game. With its readers, with the Constitution, and with its own fate.
The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.
But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I’ve begun — for the first time in my adult life — to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was “a writer,” because I couldn’t bring myself to admit to a stranger that I’m a journalist.
You need to understand how painful this is for me. I am one of those people who truly bleeds ink when I’m cut. I am a fourth generation newspaperman. As family history tells it, my great-grandfather was a newspaper editor in Abilene, Kansas during the last of the cowboy days, then moved to Oregon to help start the Oregon Journal (now the Oregonian). My hard-living – and when I knew her, scary – grandmother was one of the first women reporters for the Los Angeles Times. And my father, though profoundly dyslexic, followed a long career in intelligence to finish his life (thanks to word processors and spellcheckers) as a very successful freelance writer. I’ve spent thirty years in every part of journalism, from beat reporter to magazine editor. And my oldest son, following in the family business, so to speak, earned his first national by-line before he earned his drivers license.
So, when I say I’m deeply ashamed right now to be called a “journalist”, you can imagine just how deep that cuts into my soul.
Now, of course, there’s always been bias in the media. Human beings are biased, so the work they do, including reporting, is inevitably colored. Hell, I can show you ten different ways to color variations of the word “said” – muttered, shouted, announced, reluctantly replied, responded, etc. – to influence the way a reader will apprehend exactly the same quote. We all learn that in Reporting 101, or at least in the first few weeks working in a newsroom. But what we are also supposed to learn during that same apprenticeship is to recognize the dangerous power of that technique, and many others, and develop built-in alarms against their unconscious.
But even more important, we are also supposed to be taught that even though there is no such thing as pure, Platonic objectivity in reporting, we are to spend our careers struggling to approach that ideal as closely as possible. That means constantly challenging our own prejudices, systematically presenting opposing views, and never, ever burying stories that contradict our own world views or challenge people or institutions we admire. If we can’t achieve Olympian detachment, than at least we can recognize human frailty – especially in ourselves.

Read the entire essay. It’s worth your time.
(H/T Little Green Footballs)

2 thoughts on “Superb self-examination of journalism today”

  1. This article shouldn’ve been written 50 years ago when the MSM in this country went down the tubes.
    The reason it’s taken sooooooo long for most people to realize it is because it now affects ALL OF US, not just a few.

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