For years now, the first thing that I do in the morning is to read the newspaper. After all, it is important to know what is going on in the world. Even the founding fathers, included the press in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Congress shall make no laws abridging the free press. The news is actually supposed to tell you things you need to know.
My favorite thing to read in the morning is the sports section. As Earl Warren once noted it is the only place in the newspaper, where it talks about a man’s accomplishments. These days it is great to read about a women’s accomplishments as well.
I was lucky in that I grew up with Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Huntley-Brinkley on television. Television was the rage, in the 1950’s. The little box with black and white color and then later television had color. Wow, having a color t.v. was amazing. What was really amazing was the feeling that whether it was the local news broadcast or the national news coming from that television set made you feel like they were right there in your living room, sharing with you the important events of our lifetime.
The newspaper in New Orleans was the guardian, the protector of the city. The Times -Picayune, had real journalists, who through hard work, broke news stories about local corruption, and kept you informed about what was happening in your town.
The integrity of many newsmen and women, struck a young man, such as myself, as an honorable profession. They protected us by telling the truth. Of course, not all of the news was of a high quality, we had yellow journalism, we’ve always had that, news that was tilted to the owner or editor of the newspaper’s point of view. But unless, you liked sensationalism, you avoided those newspapers.
I got a kick out of my Mom, she liked to read these funny newspapers on the counter at the Grocery store. They were about gossip.
Wow, there was a time when the most trusted man in America was a journalist, Walter Cronkite. You just felt that he was telling you the truth. As a child in elementary school, Mr. Cronkite, had a show, called “You were there,” or something like that. Mr. Cronkite was there to tell us about our astronauts, he was everywhere.
Now, 40 plus years later, we still have local news, which seems to be more about crime and mayhem than before. It’s about traffic reports, and the weather. It gives us a flavor of what is going on in our community. There are fewer newspapers, as competition and costs have helped to shrink what is available to us. There is still our evening news channels like before, but fewer people watch than before. There is a glut of cable news stations, competing for our viewership. These shows are more about entertainment often, than hard core reporting, telling us stories that took time and hard work. There are occasional stories that capture our interests. There still is PBS, where we get news without commercials. The question is are we getting news that is fit to print?
We now have the 24 hour news cycle, when the key factor is getting the news up and broadcast as fast as possible. It has become the theatre of the absurd. Major corporations now own the news outlets for the most part. It is about ratings and commercial television. Increasingly the news is about show business figures, gossip and sensationalism. It has become quite frankly, a National Enquirer tabloid form of news. My Mom would be happy, she wouldn’t need to go to the grocery to get her gossip anymore.
The danger with major corporations owning the major television outlets spreading the news, is that it will only be the news that they want to be heard, news that companies are comfortable with showing.
Where is the coverage of what is going on in North Carolina with the protests of the Moral Monday group? Or where was the coverage of the demonstrations that occupied the state capitol of Madison, Wisconsin? Please, give me the unvarnished news without it being propaganda.
What is sad is the lack of foreign correspondents and news from abroad. Corporate media doesn’t see as much profit in that, and having reporters abroad they see as being too costly. The United States does not live on an island, there is a big world out there and because of the new forms of communication it is a smaller world in many ways. Americans are far too ignorant of what goes on in the world. What goes on in the Crimea just might impact all of us. Sports events seem to attract world attention, but when it comes to knowing about other countries where the United States winds up being involved in, we lack the knowledge of the history of foreign lands. We can make bad decisions that costs the lives of Americans because we don’t understand other people’s customs and traditions and history.
Not all is bleak, we still have PBS and on cable, thanks go out to the BBC. I am amazed and thankful for stories that I learn about what is going on, for to be informed is to have knowledge.
To maintain our democracy and our Republic we need an informed public. We need to have news that we can trust for accuracy and truth.