Sunday, July 02, 2006

Grapevine Will Not Reveal State Secrets

We Need a Media Summit to Work Out the Rules

I watched William Keller of the New York Times on Face the Nation today on CBS. As one of the least senior members of the press, I am deeply troubled by what is going on with journalism in America. We need a major gathering of journalists to hammer out some standards. We need bloggers, news readers representing television, independent weeklies, magazines, print and radio journalists to develop standards, punishments for infractions, and a complaint process. Here are where we find ourselves in 2006:

  • We have had scandals of fake news at nearly every major media outlet in the country from Jayson Blair to the Dan Rather with his Bush National Guard story.
  • The viewers of television news are increasing hearing opinions seeping into the news especially at the local level. We hear the anchors calling people scum bags or acting as though the subjects of news are guilty upon arrest.
  • Are the television news readers really journalists or entertainers?
  • Journalists have a spotty record of protecting the first amendment. See our posts about panhandling and the press, but there are plenty of other examples.
  • The Wall Street Journal editorial criticized the New York Times for publishing the government invasion of financial records, a story that the WSJ news department also published. This is certainly a new low in protecting an ideology over free speech.
  • The media has missed huge stories over the last six years including the bogus Weapons of Mass Destruction, the total failure of the intelligence community to figure out huge life transforming events, the purchasing of democracy by corporations, and the destruction of the American safety net.
  • The purchasing of news with public relations firms, government propaganda, and video press releases passed off as news is becoming increasingly prevalent.
  • The problems of opinion pieces looking like news, and confusing readers or viewers is an issue.
  • The Washington Post's reader representative misrepresenting facts and openly hostile to the emerging blogger community is one example of the poor state of the ombudsman. This resentment of the blogger community also goes deep into the heart of most newspapers in the United States.
  • The last two wars undertaken by the United States have involved "embedded journalists." Has this worked and served the best interest of Americans?
  • Many of the journalists make guest appearances giving their opinion on television and radio programs. How do they maintain balance if they are constantly preparing for their next television appearance?
Anyway, we have huge issues that need addressed. Our only solution is to write a letter to the editor that may or may not be published. We have all this space on the internet, why can't all of our letters be posted? Why can't there be some punishment for journalists who sell out the First Amendment? Why can't we see the results of a mistake like we did with CBS News? The journalists of America are losing our trust. I feel sorry for Mr. Keller and the New York Times for having to endure the attack by the administration, members of Congress, and even other media, but he needs to respond with more than just "we are a convenient target." We need a Continental Congress for the First Amendment before 2008.



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