The Internet is fraught with worried liars seeking to confuse and mislead independent thinkers. Their motive is clear — scatter decoys and throw people off the path of discovery. They want to obscure the real news, knowing that truth has a flavor.
Once you get a taste of it — you’ll know what it is.
Today’s media stands at the threshold of cataclysm. The modes of media that survive, even thrive, shall be those who make bringing truth to the people their hallmark. High-impact writing, devoid of slant, spin and evasive mumbo-jumbo is what today’s reader expects from a journalist. Gone are the days of the news room team-player.
Gone are the days also of controlling who can and cannot access information. Get yourself a Macintosh.
There is a new awareness on the streets. It comes to the chagrin and worry of those who would bar the ordinary citizen from the power of knowledge. This “thought police” has published their concerns in an academic journal whose words fly 200 miles above the Middle American radar. The writers of this discussion are worried about new technologies that are not just cheap but sometimes even free. These technologies are user-friendly, accessible, and fast. More harrowingly, they are global.
Based on these new developments and digital technologies, the average citizen, given the desire to learn, can educate himself to threatening new heights. This makes the news reader of the future a different animal. He will expect more from his news media because with access to high speed Internet, he will be able to get translations of news from around the world. Conducting his own research, this new animal can compare notes, check facts and bounce what he has learned off the daily feed of his local media.
The fog of the last century is lifting. But there is a gathering storm encroaching on every major newspaper. Their readerships are getting their news from all over the world now and it does not jibe with what they are reading in their local papers. The billion dollar question for the mainstream media is “and why is that?”
“A journalist’s credibility, once lost, is gone forever,” a professor recently taught. So too is gone forever the reputation of one whose character has been assassinated by the press. The professor added, “A journalist is in the business of truth-telling.”
If it is the truth, we get to print it. There are basic elements of a news story that should always be answered. Given the answers to who, where, what, when, and how, the “why” may be discerned.
In the Miami Herald there was a story about how Palestinian refugees had been taken in by Chile. The Spanish-speaking, predominantly-Christian country embraced these Muslims with a warm welcome. The refugees joined an already thriving population of 300,000 other Palestinians who now call Chile home. There were several quotes from one Palestinian family that the story featured. They spoke of their two-year ordeal living in squalid tents, fearing for their lives from harassment and attacks. They fled after one of their neighbors was killed in front of them. In each quote describing the atrocities suffered by this Palestinian family, the pronoun “they” was used to describe their attackers. This leaves a reader curious as to who “they” were. Never once were “they” identified. What kind of news-writing is this? Today’s reader demands all the facts — not just some of them. He does not want the doctored facts or the censored facts. He wants the unaltered whole of it and he wants it now.
A concern for those who own today’s news media is what Howard Rheingold refers to as “smart mobs” in his new book. Rheingold’s phrase has been adopted by sociologists who discuss in their journals the threat of self-educating new citizens who might begin to think for themselves. This could bring about a social revolution. Why such an upheaval is not good news to everyone is piquant. Why would such a revolution not be good news? It entails none of the carnage of the French, Cuban or Bolshevik revolutions, for example, so what is not to like about it? Why would it not be good news to have a smarter readership? What sinister efficacy would ignorance serve the captains of industry? Perhaps this is a feature story that mainstream newspapers could take for action.
No doubt aiding the media’s tailspin are exposes about historic news spanning the last century. This historic “news” is full of holes. What is watertight; however, is testimony.
People who have been heretofore silenced, imprisoned and smeared by the press are coming out of the woodwork to tell their stories. Some of them have grown old and infirm enough to no longer have anything to lose. So they have given recent interviews. The fear of death has loomed over such witnesses as the truth has been kept from the world.
Was the news media in cahoots with those to whom truth is a threat? What passed for news on such matters suggests that this is the case. If so, it is a scandal worthy of more than public pillory. That is not the kind of media we want in our news rooms. This is at the heart of why newspapers are taking a nosedive. They have lost credibility with their readerships on a global scale.
The muckraking that is going on today outshines Nellie Bly in that it transcends the hack-mentality of a beat reporter. There seems a higher purpose to this movement. It has taken on a life of its own, like MicroSoft-ware, except it works for the good of the people. A force to be reckoned with, the modern muckraking movement is rocking the foundations of the world’s belief systems, infiltrating every knowledge-base. There is no stone it leaves unturned. The literate world is experiencing a shockwave of illumination devoid and despite of the mainstream media.
It appears that this phenomenon is beyond the scope, reach, policing and control of the current establishment — and much to their dismay. It has gone too far, too fast for retraction. It has flung forth like a strike fighter from the catapult. It has been launched like an Exocet or righteous, rollicking round.
To the jailers of truth, to the gatekeepers of knowledge, to the barons of education – the Internet is the biggest nightmare of their lives. The World Wide Web makes what used to be viciously-guarded available to anyone who can read. For purveyors of half-truths, propaganda and filler gibberish, it tolls the knell of their sinking ships. The Internet has awakened a sleeping lion.
Newspapers who want to survive will need to walk a straighter line. What has passed for news is no longer holding water. People have stopped buying lies, subterfuge, ruses, cover-ups and propaganda. Hearst’s snow-jobs have gone the way of the whale-bone corset.
People want a media with credibility. Americans are waking up, wising up and bucking up. They are hungry for new caliber. People are tired of a press who couches and breaks bread with corrupt politicians. And crawls up the bomb-bay of Bilderberg. Good writing is a craft, but lying should not be. America does not need another Stephen Glass.
Today’s mainstream press is in deep kimchi. People are being informed by maverick muckrakers that big media has lied to them on the hard news for not just a decade, but for over 50 years. Things are coming out in the wash to the disgrace of big news organizations. The government is likewise losing credibility with an increasingly research-savvy and skeptical public. When it comes to the press and the government these days, people are questioning everything.
Unlike the years prior to 1995, people are no longer limited to their sources of information. The world is now at their fingertips. If they can read and have time, they can learn about anything without setting foot into a library or leaving their homes.
Perhaps it is time for a media renaissance. Change is good when things are bad. The time has come for a strident evaluation of the Federal Reserve. No private bank should masquerade as a Federal anything. So too should an in-depth analysis of our mass media be conducted by neutral outsiders who have no vested interests.
The bottom-feeders of the press who hound celebrities and smear non-threatening famous people are what The Project for Excellence in Journalism calls “exploitative jackals.” These same jackals know better than to snap at the heels of a Rockefeller or shoot telephoto of a Rothschild. One must pose the question, “why do you think that is?” Such jackals hounded Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed to their deaths. What made Fayed a yellow press target whilst Mr. Rockefeller enjoys immunity?
A plausible factor for the yellow press’s inconsistencies about whom they hunt, harass and lampoon is either a secret loyalty to those they leave alone or a fear of tit for tat in the shooting game. What paparazzi gadfly wishes to find himself in the cross-hairs of Heckler and Koch?
Some people are clearly above the law and the press knows it. Not exposing what they know to be the truth does not win the mainstream media points with a public who is growing more informed every day. Ask those babies they burned at Waco. Where was the press when they needed them? You want a story? Go interview Janet Reno. She should have more time to give interviews these days. Burning all those innocent people should not only be fresh on her mind, it will hound her for the rest of her days. If this was our Department of Justice at work what does it say about the rest of our government?
There is enough real news breaking in the world without prying into the personal lives of public figures for sport and lampoonery. If some people are game for scrutiny then they should all be game for scrutiny. Inconsistencies like these are a telling wall for the dishonesty and corruption that drive today’s media. Let the tailspin of the press be a sign of the times. Let it write into the sky poetic justice for a media gone wrong.
The press has long lavished a pillory on certain people while giving others a wide berth. Vicious character assassinations have been made of people on flimsy premise while more questionable folks get away with murder. William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper helped sentence a man to death in a speedy trial – a man whose widow protested his execution unto her death of old age. Hearst’s “news” deliberately fanned the flames of suspicion against a man who has never been proven guilty. Once the press drags a name through the mud, it is indelibly mired. The uneven hand of the media is suspicious in a profession where blind justice is required. Why would anyone spend two cents on a newspaper like that?
Given all “this news” it is less difficult to figure out why the entry lobby of the Miami Herald employs maximum security and uses a decoy building to distract visitors from its location. Why would a newspaper office have to resort to the security of Fort Knox? What does it have to fear from its public that merits this kind of fortification? The answer to these questions will reveal what can be done to save the sinking ship of today’s mainstream media.