Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind'
Media bias and democracy
Jonal entry 1074 | October
Having now lived most of my life in Silicon Valley, I've known
of Michael Malone as a local writer at the Mercury News and host of his
own shows on Silicon Valley technology news and developments on one or more PBS
affiliates. I also knew he went on to work at the ABC Television network news
division as an expert on high technology, but since I've been tacitly boycotting
the "Desperate Housewives" network for years, I haven't seen much of
him since then. When I saw him in earlier local venues, he seemed a typical liberal
with some bright ideas but with not enough substance to make reading or watching
him a habit of choice. So I was surprised to find that the most important opinion
piece/column I've read in a long time is written by him, and posted (though obviously
reluctantly) on the ABC News
website. He begins with this bombshell:
sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not
just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself
slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually
shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.
of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun -- for the first time in my adult
life -- to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when
asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was "a writer,"
because I couldn't bring myself to admit to a stranger that I'm a journalist.
a bit later, Malone admits that he is not a supporter of McCain/Palin but he fears
for the future of journalism and, because fair and balanced reporting is essential
for the democratic process to work, he fears for the future of democracy in America.
Though I don't see this lapse in judgment and fall into blatant hypocrisy on the
part of the mainstream media (abbreviated as MSM these days in a number of blogs)
as cause to panic, I think Malone is right on both issues. Their blatant disregard
of their responsibility endangers the media themselves and the democratic process.
The good news is, at least from my jaundiced perspective, that those same media
are fading fast. A far more democratic kind of mass medium is supplanting them.
Newspaper circulations have been falling quarter after quarter for years now.
Network television is also continuing to decline in viewership and shows no signs
of having found a strategy to reverse the trend. But blogs, news aggregator sites,
and networking sites on the Internet, that often out-research, out-report, and
generally out-earn the respect of viewers over the jaded MSM, continue to thrive.
The New York Times is already forecasting its own demise; long live the
Drudge Report and its many kin.
In a week of posts here shortly after the
terrorist attacks that killed thousands and destroyed the World Trade Center in
New York, I addressed media bias and what I believe is both its Christian and
its humanist alternative. I advocated abandoning the pretnse of impartiality in
the media but at the same time opening them to a structural pluralism approach
to balance, fairness, and accuracy. You may want to review these short articles
ties the decline in newspaper subscribers and network television viewers to the
media's bias, but surprisingly he sees the current extreme MSM bias against everyone
but Obama as not a cause of a defection of audiences, but a reaction on the part
of the media managers to their failing fortunes. He weaves this explanation:
I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been
one: Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working
your way to the top, to the cockpit of power & only to discover that you're presiding
over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers,
your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden
parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn't have anywhere near the power and
influence it did when you started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak
to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you'll lose your job
before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension.
In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -- and desperate times
call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail
Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After
all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway -- all that counts is keeping
them on life support until you can retire.
And then the opportunity presents
itself -- an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but
more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power
to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.
With luck, this monolithic,
single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness
doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe
be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.
Worse than simple betrayal...selling out First Principles
for selfish interests. And ABC News adds its chilling post-script:
is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Usually, the MSM qualify opinion pieces by their staff
writers with "the opinions of the writer may not reflect the views of this
organization." But Malone's editors are leaving no doubt. They're on the
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Corporate communications: "One day, my Boss
asked me to submit a status report concerning a project I was working on. I asked
him if tomorrow was soon enough. He said, 'If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have
waited until tomorrow to ask for it!'"
Thought for today
It is hard to have patience with people who say "There is no death" or "Death
doesn't matter." There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens
has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might
as well say that birth doesn't matter.
C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)
Kennedy's latest book is The Everything Guide to
C.S. Lewis and Narnia, now in stores, from Adams Media, F&W Publications.
From May 9, 2007 through July 2, 2008 his blog entries or "Jonals" were
articles inspired by readings in Lewis's work that didn't fit into the book.
for a list of all articles in the C.S. Lewis Overflow series. The book is
available for purchase in support of the Liberty Museum in Nanty Glo and is also
available on Amazon.
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