Thursday, November 11, 2010

News has morphed into Entertainment

News has become today's entertainment.  It has the same snail's pace as the soap operas and, as long as on political party isn't in complete control or an attack using WMDs hasn't occurred, the same limited impact.  when EVERYTHING can be and is covered, it is like having too much of your favorite food or stop appreciating the finer points.

The big loser is, of course, the American People.  Journalism used to be about the story.  With no television, you read a paper or heard a radio report.  It was about what used to be revered by every professionally proud reporter: What, Where, When Why, Who, and How.  It wasn't about adjectives.  It wasn't about taking a position (which, if done in a news story, used to get your fired).  It was about telling your readers the facts and, KNOWING...that they would interpret those facts for themselves; they would define what the appropriate reaction or judgment should be.

Reporters used to pride themselves on not having friends outside the business.  They has sources.  They had readers.  They were cynical, but they had a CALLING.  They were better than the Politicians that they covered.  They were of more service to the Republic than were all the laws, courts and politicians combined...because they and they alone trusted the American People with the facts...and they did not have a stake in the game except to tell everyone the facts.  Interpretation was beneath them.  They were dedicated to the Freedom of the Press and what it stood for...not power over others, not name recognition, not directing others...but telling the American People everything they could find out.  And even better to reveal what someone (anyone) wanted hidden.They BELIEVED that if all the people knew everything, the nation would survive.

Right or wrong, it was this attitude about the sanctity of their work and its purpose that preserved the ideal of Freedom of the Press for so many years.

Yes, the American People have largely lost their way.  There are many reasons: a growing narcissism, a sense of entitlement. victimization by unscrupulous politicians...  But lost in the many self-inflicted causes is the death of The Professional Journalist.

The last professional journalist died long, long ago.  Now the press is just a publicity agent.  Sometimes the client is clear.  Often it is not.  And so many times it changes in the middle of a "story."  But one thing is certain...the client is no longer ever the American People.

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