Friday, June 17, 2005

We Need An Independent MSM!

I am thrilled about the Downing Street Hearing. I am so proud that, along with John Conyers and the 122 members of Congress, there were over 560,000 citzens that signed the letter asking for accountablilty from this Administration regarding the Downing Street Minutes. And I am especially proud that it was the liberal blogosphere that largely kept this alive when the White House and the mainstream media pointedly ignored it, hoping it would wither away without their attention.

However, this brings up a very serious question about the mainstream media in general - the newspapers and the major network news in particular. What good is the blogosphere alone when most of America is not a part of it?

I don't know about you, but most of the people in my life are not umbilically attached to a computer like I am. The majority of Americans do not get their information from the Internet. Most folks manage America Online, and that's the extent of their computer use. Even many people who use a computer all day long at work don't come home and go onto the computer - they've spent enough time on it at work. And with our economy shipwrecked by the Pirate-in-Chief, most people work longer hours than ever before, many with more than one job (how 'uniquely American') and still deal with home, kids, or elderly parents on top of this - sometimes all three.

And when they come home, they turn on the Channel 7 news. Or read the newspaper. They don't go to Daily Kos or Raw Story or Buzzflash. And the mainstream news outlets are abnegating their responsibility to these people. Whether it's from fear or from laziness, from the publishers on down, the major media have abandoned not only the obligation but the privilege of telling the independent truth to America. The Fourth Estate has the honor and civic duty of defending America's freedom by telling the truth, by digging below the surface and between the lines of what it hears. If it takes everything disseminated by the Administration (any Administration, not just this one) at face value, and merely repeats what it's told by the powers-that-be, then it ceases to be journalism and becomes propaganda. And that's criminally negligent, as far as I'm concerned. You are actively injuring American freedom when you become a mouthpiece.

Sure, it's easy to say to Americans, "Get informed! Go on the Internet! Look it up for yourself!" But the sad truth is, most people don't have the time or energy to do that. Yes, the people have an obligation to pay attention to what's going on in the country. But if real, unbiased information is too difficult to find, it's not fair to expect all Americans to become computer sleuths in addition to everything else.

In order to stay informed, we are having to become investigative journalists ourselves. And today's world is so complex and multi-faceted that it is a full-time job just to separate the sh** from the Shinola, so to speak. Journalism is a profession, or it used to be. One aspect of a profession is a matter of trust. If you go to a doctor or a lawyer, you are putting your trust in them, since we all can't spend years in med school or law school. You are literally putting your life into their hands. And we put the life of our democracy in the hands of our press.

Please, please, honor your obligation to the American people, ladies and gentlemen of the press. We need you now more than ever.

I promise you, you'll be glad you did.

18 comments:

Helen Wheels said...

Great post, Alicia. I couldn't agree more. Most people do get their news from TV, newspapers and magazines, and believe what they see & hear there. Our press has really let those people down by kowtowing to this f'ed up administration and its ability to scare the media into 'behaving'.

I was grossed out yet again when I watched 1 minute of Chris Tucker's new show ('cause if I watch him longer than that, I truly fear I'll blow my cerebral cortex or get a permanent facial tic), and it happened to be when he was addressing the Downing Street Memo, and he kept regurgitating what ALL the other press folks said, that this has already been reported, that it's nothing new, etc.

When 'newspeople' suddenly decide that a huge breaking story is NOT a story, that's pretty damn telling. They have been bought and paid for. The only way we can get the truth out to the American people is to do it ourselves. How? I don't know. I think that MoveOn and other organizations who use the TV medium probably have the right idea. But we have to do more.

Alicia said...

Girl, you are braver than I am. I used to try and watch or listen to the 'other side', just so I could try to understand where they were coming from, but I had to give it up. I can't afford a new TV every time I throw a heavy object at it...

The majority of Americans, while maybe not wildly progressive, still need to hear truth in reporting, not right-wing spin.

These people will not be reading 'The Nation', no matter what. And it may take them 5-10 years to get to the point where the Internet is an integral part of their information lives. They need real news. They don't have to agree with my particular point of view, but they need facts on which to base their views, not propaganda. And right now that's all they're getting. If all they base their opinions on is Faux News, or stories about cosmetic surgery, 'runaway brides' and Brad and Angelina, how can they make any kind of informed decisions?

We used to have news and journalistic standards, and their demise is a death-knell for democracy.

Robert Rouse said...

Helen,

So people don't get too upset at the next "Rush Hour" film, I'm going to suggest you were talking about Tucker Carlson and not Chris Tucker (easy mistake). I'm constantly ranting about what the press thinks Americans want to know about. Unfortunately, they're usually right. But what we need is someone like Uncle Walter Cronkite who looked us in the eye and told us like it was whether he thought we wanted to know or not. He was the first anchor man to come out and say our being in Vietnam was wrong. He cried when he told us about JFK. He was trustworthy. Today's journalists either kowtow to the current administration or they broadcast to the lowest common denominator (not too sure there's that big of a difference). Oh well, I've ranted enough. Gotta watch my blood pressure.

Crabbi said...

...he kept regurgitating what ALL the other press folks said, that this has already been reported, that it's nothing new, etc.

Scottie McClellan is saying the same thing. What I want to know is if this is all old news AND hasn't been refuted, does that mean Scottie is saying, "Duh, we did manipulate the intelligence?" Am I missing something here? Is he completely devoid of logic? Does he know what he's saying?

Marie said...

There was never a time that the media reported that Bush and his administration had fixed the justification for war in order to sell it. Never. It's all spin. I know I'm not falling for it and I know ya'll aren't falling for it............and amazingly enough I think America is not falling for it. That's why Bush is taking a nose dive on his job performance. The thing that amazes me the most is that Bush seems to be about the only one who isn't falling for it.

marie

mud said...

Quite frankly, I only watch the t.v. news and read the paper to verify what I've already read online. I still don't trust the blogosphere much because I feel we still lack traditional journalistic training and ethics. So I fall back on the papers and news casts to give me my "verified" information. Mainly because, even the blogs that I agree with tend to stretch the truth for the benefit of the cause.

Even tonight, I watched the re-airing of the DSM hearings on regular C-SPAN. The man (after a glass of wine, I can't recall his name) who represented the intel agencies, talked more to opinion and story than putting forth factual information. I thanked Mr. Wilson and the guy from afterdowningstreet.org for keeping on track.... but back to my point.

I am, and always have been, a newspaper and t.v. news junkie. I don't find anything new and fresh to discover from the old media anymore. I now only watch and read to verify and/or criticize, which makes watching FOX all that much more fun. We are in an interesting time caught between the power of the blog and the decaying of the traditional news media. As a blogger and amature pundit, I think we need to tred on the side of truth to justify our potential power.

More power to C-SPAN...

karena said...

Alicia,
I talk to people frequently that do not know how to even navigate around a blog if they find one and some of these folks are in their twenties. I have to give instructions to new readers of my blog who are my own friends. And some of them have their own websites. I have a relative who is terrified to forward my blog links because he thinks they are private. I have told him more than once they are on the internet, so they are not that private. But things will change and it is exciting to be on the front end of this new information exchange. Mud, many bloggers link their facts to newspapers and other sources. You just have to find the ones you trust. Like Last Left Before Hooterville.

kissfan said...

Too much of what passes for news these days is what I call "infotainment." It's all about getting ratings. People don't want to hear that their government is a bunch of corrupt fools because it doesn't make them feel good about themselves. However, seeing someone like Michael Jackson get his name drug through the mud, does. When you see someone who's supposed to be better than you getting skewered in the media it makes you feel as though you've moved a rung or two closer to that status yourself. It's the reason we watch shows like American Idol. When we see Simon making fun of somebody, it makes us feel that we're not so bad after all, because we're surely better than that person. Sadly, our "journalists" have become caught up in the hoopla, so to speak. Something that doesn't make the general public feel good will always be passed over for a juicy sex scandal or a private struggle. Or, better yet, a missing white girl.

Alicia said...

Karena - I know; I always find it odd that people are so intimidated by computers and the Internet. And it doesn't have to do with intelligence; some of the smartest and best-educated people I know are what my 13-year-old son calls 'techno-dead'. I'm reasonably smart, but certainly no rocket scientist - I had 3 months of college before going on the road as a musician. But I'm an autodidact, so I'm not afraid to learn new things on my own. Most people are used to learning things that other people teach them, either in school or on the job, and if they're not taught how to navigate the new technology, they simply don't go there. How many people do you know, for instance, who say, "I've had this digital camera for 2 years - I just don't know how to use it!"

BTW, that's the nicest thing anybody's said about my blog! Thank you so much! As you said to Mud, any responsible blog will link to a real news source to back up an assertion of fact (rather than an opinion). My blog is an opinion blog, but if I quote somebody or assert something, I will find the source and link to it. I don't flatter myself for a minute that I am a journalist. I need to be able to trust journalists to tell me the truth.

kissfan - you're absolutely right about the 'infotainment' thing. Now, I don't have anything against infotainment - just don't call it news! The first thing that needs to happen is that real news needs to be independent of ratings. Our need for the objective truth is too great to be tied to the marketplace and the lowest common denominator. There needs to be an agreed-upon set of journalistic standards for what is allowed to be called 'news', and a network that wants to put it on should then be allowed to air it, perhaps, subsidised by a fixed amount of federal funding...I'm just rambling here; I'm trying to think of a way to get the truth to all Americans without the shackles of the marketplace distorting or diluting what we need to know. Keep Wacko Jacko and the missing white women on 'Entertainment Tonight' where they belong. Heck, there are whole cable channels dedicated to that stuff! I read the Enquirer, the Weekly World News, Star, Globe, People, etc. faithfully every week, but I don't for a minute confuse it with 'news'.

Oh, what I wouldn't give to have Walter Cronkite back on the air! Somebody should snap him up while we're still lucky enough to have him with us.

The cats, formerly known as CottonSaddieMango said...

You mean the computer is not just for games? A lot of the programmers I work with, go home and play games on their computers. At work, while on break, they will go to the local newspaper archive, online, and see what's happening on a local level. Most of them do watch FOX news and that's what they will talk about. Not many of them look at other online news media. Some of the lines they repeat, make me cringe. I think Kissfan has a post on his site from Friday about that A-hole, Rush Limbaugh. It was an interesting show that Kissfan caught. Rush's hype is the type of stuff that some of my co-workers would be likely to spew.

oldwhitelady said...

Darn those cats! They were messing around with the computer and changed my identity. I wonder if they had anything to do with the Mastercard leak of information?

Alicia said...

Don't worry, OWL - mine do that to me on a regular basis. I think they are just trying to keep me on my toes!

Check around the house to see if there are any new and really expensive cat beds, for instance - the ones at the pet store that go all the way to the ceiling and look like trees...or any unexpected shipments of raw liver. Things like that will tip you off.

I have programmer friends that are that way, too...my bass player is married to one, and when I go to their house, Faux News is always on. I got into a careful conversation with him one time, trying to see where we split off intellectually. He's a very smart guy, but then he started talking about how great everything was before the New Deal, and how it was a family's responsibility to take care of everyone - "People weren't starving in the streets before Social Security" - as though SS discouraged people from doing their family duty. Now there's the spot where reality stops and fantasy starts. People did 'die in the streets'. Children did work 14-hour days in factories before child labor laws. Women didn't vote before the 19th Amendment in 1920. How great was it for Black people back then? Not very! This make-believe 'past' that conservatives like to hearken back to simply did not exist.

Alicia said...

Or, as Ebenezer Scrooge put it in the good old Dickens days -

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

Robert Rouse said...

Ah yes, back in the days before Social Security. The halcyon days of the Depression, the Dust Bowl, Black Friday. Now those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end, we'd sing and dance forever and a day . . . would someone smack me? You'll have to forgive me, I'm not feeling well today.

Alicia said...

Robert, take it easy today - don't aggravate yourself with those kind of things...rest to fight another day!

oldwhitelady said...

I think the cats hide their toys. I see them playing around the stove or refrigerator and when I come into the room, they immediately stop what they were doing. They act all innocent like. "What? I was just waiting for you to wake up." Stuff like that..

I hate the way this admin has caused people to behave. At my part-time job, I wanted to share something, with one of the newer ladies, that a Repub would not appreciate. First, I asked her if she tended to be more dem or more rep. She said, "Are we going to fight?" It turns out she is Dem all the way, so I was able to tell her what I had on my mind. I know another lady is also Dem, so is her trucker friend. My boss doesn't keep up with politics, but the big boss is Rep, all the way. Luckily, he doesn't pay too much attention to what we say (regarding politics) and he's actually supposed to be gone by the time I get there. Poor guy works way too much.

Crabbi said...

Hey, Looks like I'm not the only one questionning the right's logic - only Tom Tomorrow does it much better than I can.

Helen Wheels said...

Yes yes!!! I did mean Tucker Carlson! I have name dyslexia and it rears its ugly head when I don't edit my statements :)

Thank for pointing that out. I woudln't want to call ANYONE Tucker Carlson. And what's with the bow tie??? He looks like an escapee from a turn of the century ice cream social. OK, I'll stop with the pettiness...

But Alicia is right: lacking integrity in the only avenue through which the majority of people can be told the truth (mainstream media) is probably the only way the dubya administration will stay standing.

It is wise to check the facts or opinions or sources on the blogosphere, I totally agree with that. It's sort of why I watch any TV news at all.

I think that the only TV coverage that is practically or maybe totally 100% truthful anymore, however, is CSpan (Gore Vidal said it best).

Oh, and I love the new look too, Alicia!! Great job!