Eags (Timothy Egan) defends the 4th Estate and identifies the actual media elite that has been the favorite straw-man of Dumbo demagogues from Spiro Agnew to Sarah Palin. The media multimillionaires are the likes of BFI (Big F-word of your choice Idiot) Limbaugh and Sean Handjob of Faux News. A good purgative helps from time to time, thanks to Eags. If this is a (fair & balanced) remedial consideration of the 1st Amendmdent, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
Beat The Press
By Eags (Timothy Egan)
Tag Cloud of the following piece of writing
Before it slips away, let’s try to pull some larger meaning from perhaps the most absurd moment of 2015: that professor at one of the nation’s top journalism colleges who threatened to use force against a student journalist for doing the things taught in that school.
The viral video, of Melissa Click, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, shows her screaming “get this reporter out of here” — the “here” being a public space, at a public event, a protest circle during Mizzou’s days of rage. “I need some muscle over here,” she cries, in faculty-thug mode.
One lesson — in dignity, in the raw rights of a free press, in how hard it is to do the work that an informed democracy needs done on a daily basis — was embodied by a student photographer, Tim Tai, harassed just moments earlier and captured in the video. He kept his poise while being mocked by the professor for asserting a First Amendment duty to his job.
Professor Click has since apologized and resigned from her courtesy appointment at the Missouri School of Journalism. She should take a long timeout for some remedial reading of I. F. Stone, Frederick Douglass and Gloria Steinem, all journalists who faced harassment in their day.
I’d like to believe that this video snippet was just another absurdity of campus life, where the politics are so vicious, as they say, because the stakes are so small. But it goes to a more troubling trend — the diminishment of a healthy, professionally trained free press.
For some time now, it’s been open season on this beaten-down trade, from the left and the right. Into that vacuum have emerged powerful partisan voices, injecting rumors and outright lies into the public arena, with no consequence. At the same time, it’s become extremely difficult for reporters who adhere to higher standards to make a living. Poverty-level wages have become the norm at many a town’s lone nonpartisan media outlet.
More than 20,000 newsroom jobs have been lost in this country since 2001 — a work force drop of about 42 percent. The mean salary of reporters in 2013 was $44,360; journalists now earn less than the national average for all United States workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This is not because people are getting less of their information from those trained in fact-gathering and storytelling. Just the opposite. The digital age has expanded the audience of most media outlets. In that sense, journalism has never been more successful. But the crash of traditional business models has impoverished the practitioners of daily journalism.
None of the above is news, nor even a sympathy plea for a beleaguered trade whose alumni include Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Joan Didion. But take this perspective into account the next time you hear somebody attack the “media elites.”
The true media elites are in talk radio and right-wing television — multimillionaire gasbags from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity. Every day, nearly every hour, they attack reporters, using verbal assaults more consequential than the muscle play by an amped-up academic. In that world, the “lamestream media,” to use the term of the University of Idaho journalism graduate Sarah Palin, is evil incarnate.
Real reporters have been replaced with fake reporters. No, not the “Daily Show” staff, which did a better job of fact-checking the Republican debate this week than did Fox News. I’m talking about stunt reporters, who do the dirty work of the partisan outlets.
Real reporters get threatened, or vilified on social media, while trying to cover city hall, the state legislature, a rally of heavily armed militants or a campus protest. Too often, the left sees them as an appendage, and the right as an enemy.
Conservative media deserve credit for going after the un-American censoriousness on college campuses. But elsewhere, in promulgating a create-your-own-facts media world, they’ve made a mess of our democracy.
Even if you don’t give a damn about what’s happened to the once-storied free press, consider the consequences to a once-storied political party. The main reason that Republican politicians sound so crazy of late is because they get their information, and validation, from the twisted world of partisan media outlets.
So, climate change is a hoax, because Limbaugh says so. Raising the minimum wage always causes job losses — as Ben Carson asserted on Tuesday — because that’s what you hear on Fox. Both claims are demonstrably false.
What is also not true, in the jab thrown by the unctuous Senator Ted Cruz on Tuesday, is that things would be different “if a bunch of people with journalism degrees were coming over and driving down the wages in the press.” He said this before a moderator, Gerard Baker, editor of The Wall Street Journal, who is a British citizen, making far more money than the average American reporter, with no effect on their wages. In the age of the partisan press, irony is another casualty. Ω
[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]
Copyright © 2015 The New York Times Company
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License..
Copyright © 2015 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves