Monday, November 1, 2010

Angry Reporter On Strike

The Wall Street Journal posted a story about a CBS affiliate in Alaska that left a garbled voicemail for an aide to GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller, where a female and male reporter discuss ways of embarrassing the Miller campaign, including reporting on sex offenders attending a Miller rally and Tweeting about any "chaos" in the campaign, such as Miller getting punched at a rally while laughing like spazmatic robots.

Miller's campaign released the tape, and the station denied that their reporters were discussing ways to fabricate stories.
The story didn't bother me. Alaska can fuck itself on an iceberg as far as I'm concerned. What pissed me off were the posted comments to the story, particularly one.

Someone identifying themselves as "HenryH" posted the following:

"We are talking about “reporters” here people. Since when did this become some sort of noble profession? Last I checked, the absolute bottom of the barrel in terms of honorable and trustworthy human beings are used car salesman, attorneys, and reporters. Just think back to when you were in college…who were the ‘journalism majors’? LOL"

When were reporters considered a noble profession? About 39 years ago during the Nixon Administration when The New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, which chronicled the coverup of U.S. involvement in Vietnam by five presidents. Other newspapers followed, publishing the secret documents, which were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg.

After the publication of the Pentagon Papers, Washington Times reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein investigated a break-in of Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, which toppled the Nixon presidency.

Journalism used to be an noble profession; expose corruption and enlighten the people. Inform the citizenry. Knowledge is power, so we're empowering our fellow Americans.

What crap!

It's now all about ratings, readership and precious money. The idealistic image of the scrappy reporter taking on entrenched political interests is deader than the dodo, the Tasmanian tiger and Andy Dick's career.

I'm demoralized. I've had it. I'm tired of being a professional in an age of liars, swindlers and lunatics.

The only way to get ahead in America is to be a criminal, to deceive people and keep them as ignorant for as long as possible. Don't give them a choice between wisdom and ignorance; cram ignorance down their throats and tell them it tastes as sweet as pumpkin pie. Stupid people are easier to control, easier to manipulate. A dumb population does whatever you want them to at the jerk of a leash.

Ever since graduating from college, (Where I studied journalism and communications, by the way) I've won my share of awards for my writing. The award-winning stories and series were very special to me and were the result of countless hours of digging, interviewing and re-writing.

Yet all my work and commitment to ethics and integrity means absolutely nothing if I'm lumped in with the scoundrels and dregs of the profession.

Anger has been the nexus of this blog. The Angry Reporter is my alter ego, the voice that imparts my zeitgeist to the literate public through these blogged screeds and rants.

I've seen the media, as well as many of America's institutions take a turn for the worse over the last ten years. I've seen the demise of sane and rational thinkers, the erosion of courtesy and professionalism and the death of common sense and curiosity.

We've become a nation of spoiled, petulant children cared for by idiot nannies who neglect to nourish us. Starved and stupid, we are ill-educated, ill-tempered and ill-informed. We're corpulent, petty and nasty and blame a host of scapegoats for our nation's problems.

I have a sinking feeling that we're marching into darkness, where evil and violence thrive, and good people are in short supply.
All of the crusading reporters have withered and fallen, replaced by corporate automatons who regurgitate partisan pablum.

"News is expensive," a colleague of mine said. We generate no revenue and only absorb a newspaper's cost. Why then call it a newspaper? Why not just run press releases and not have investigative reporters look into the workings of our government? Why not outsource your editorial staff to India like some newspapers are doing?

Americans lambaste the "lamestream media," yet don't understand why corporate media has under-served them. The 24-hour news cycle and cable news networks are only interested in breaking the story as fast as possible and about boosting their ratings, instead of taking time to develop stories and producing accurate information.

The people don't want information that challenges their long-standing prejudices: they want punditry. They want someone who agrees with them to tell them what they already believe. Not what's accurate or real, but what they believe.

This is the dangerous slope this country is sliding down. We're living through Plato's Allegory of the Cave, where America is forced to watch the shadows and mistake them for real people. And we fucking love those shadows. We drink those shadows up because to us, they confirm everything we want them to confirm about America's greatness in the world, about Republicans, about Democrats, about conservatives, about liberals and about anything we hold dear and sacred to us.

In Paddy Chayefsky's film "Network," Peter Finch plays Howard Beale, who, as the "Mad Prophet of the Airwaves," rants of television's power to dilute what is real and imaginary: "You're beginning to think that the tube is reality, and your own lives are unreal! You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing! We are the illusion!"

Now America labors under smoke and mirrors, a perpetual puppet show of lies and deception, where the mighty pulverize the weak all to maintain some semblance of civilization.

The intelligent are ridiculed, the spiritual are branded as fruitcakes, and those offering facts are called "the bottom of the barrel in terms of honorable and trustworthy human beings."

I've figured out this country all wrong. It's about money and hurting people. It's about selfishness and greed. It's about attacking others with the tenacity of a hundred pitbulls and latching your jaws around the throats of those who deserve it.

It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and I'm feeling hungry.