A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Howard Dean On The Media: Worth Thinking About

Dean, after all, has had much experience with them--up close, and personal:

"A reporter on the campaign plane once accused me of being contemptuous of the press. Even though I denied it, she and I both knew it was true.

"I think the media is a failing institution. [emphasis Dean's] The most common problem--and it is almost always deliberate...--is that reporters are under enormous pressure from editors to write what the editors think is a good story rather than what reporters actually see or hear. And editors are under enormous pressure from publishers who are under enormous pressure from CEOs who are under enormous pressure from shareholders...

"The truth is, reporters are rewarded for twisting facts to make them fit the story line of the day. I have had reporters tell me with specific illustrations that they are even encouraged to concoct stories by stringing together facts that aren't related...They are the products of too much pressure to produce, and of a newsroom culture that takes both financial and editorial shortcuts to avoid the psychologically and financially costly hard work it takes to do what Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did thirty years ago...

"The reason there are no new Woodwards and Bernsteins today is that there are not many Ben Bradlees left, and there are not many media outlets left who would want a Bradlee--he was the Washington Post editor who not only trusted the judgment of two junior reporters in the face of enormous pressure to stop the Watergate investigation, but also paid these reporters for nearly two years with little initial gain...

"The consolidation of the media--bringing about a situation in which most Americans get their news from huge multinational corporations--has succeeded, where Nixon's forces failed. Serious investigative reporting has been brought to a halt.

"The other big change in the way American media works has been wrought by Rupert Murdoch. In Murdoch's Australia and in much of Europe, it is accepted that media outlets are advocates not only of points of view but of political parties themselves...

"Tradition in the United States is that media outlets may lean liberal of conservative, but keep their news coverage separate from their editorial policy. That tradition is now honored only occasionally. The Wall Street Journal, for example, is a well-written middle-of-the-road newspaper...

"The real cost of media consolidation and Foxification in our time is not, as many of my supporters believe, censorship, although that sometimes happens...The real danger is that, in the pursuit of entertainment and ratings, the role of media in our democracy has been trivialized."

From, You Have The Power, by Howard Dean, with Judith Warner.

So I guess we bloggers just have to do it all for each other and ourselves.


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