Tuesday, February 22, 2005

 

The State of Journalism, Redux

New York Times Executive Director Bill Keller gave a recent talk that appears to be yet another lame defense of the lapdog media.

Just a couple of points.

Keller says that Americans expect the media to support their viewpoints. True or not, that is not what the mainstream media are supposed to be doing, except on the op-ed pages. They are supposed to be engaging in investigative journalism and asking hardball questions to get at the truth. Instead, they have become propaganda mouthpieces of the US government, the two political parties, and the corporations. They should be pointing out that Bush regime policy is just an extension of what’s come before. Instead, they largely ignore the sordid history of US foreign policy.

While recognizing the contribution of blogs, he says that they blur news and commentary, that they are “a view of the world through a pinhole,” and that they can descend into being a “one man circle jerk.”

Of course it is easy for a blog to become a self-satisfying masturbatory experience in which the writer flames on and on until achieving catharsis. It is a real danger that bloggers must be aware of. But the lapdog media are giving us a world viewed through a highly prejudiced propaganda lens; the “news” is information chosen so as not to be too damaging to those in power, and then run through corporate-approved acceptability filters. Do you call that a free press?

In fact, all this recent defending of the mainstream media is an indication of their sense of crisis. People who are sick of being spoon fed intelligence-insulting pap by the lapdog-media propaganda mill are finding that the Web offers bold reporting, hard questions, and even daring speculation (which is also needed). These are all the hallmarks of a truly free press, and necessary to the functioning of a democracy.

Yes, there is a lot of chaff, but that too is the price of democracy. But I know that if I want news and commentary that are written by people who are more interested in getting at the truth than in satisfying their corporate sponsors, I’ll sooner find it on the Web than in the NYT or its ilk.



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