Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Real Reality TV

I spend significant time everyday following stories of journalists and bloggers across the globe who have been arrested, harassed, imprisoned, tortured, or murdered for simply doing their jobs. Some of them I have met personally or online. Others I know of because groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders make their cases known. Because of these journalists who risk their lives every day, I believe the profession of journalist is one of the most noble.

Except in America.

It makes me sick to see the state of journalism in America these days. Sensationalism, fluff pieces, clickbait headlines, and hastily written articles that read as if they were generated by a computer seem like the norm rather than the exception. This happened because the seasoned journalists have retired or were pushed out due to "budget constraints," and they were replaced by a generation that was taught formulas for writing a news story rather than how to write well. The internet was a convenient excuse by the media corporations to get rid of their older journalists and to decrease the size (i.e. costs) of their newsrooms. Media executives with MBAs and no newsroom experience began making decisions that focused on readership/viewership rather than the press's traditional role as the fourth estate in this country, the keepers of truth, and media was consolidated to the point where only six corporations control 90% of the media.

The good journalists have tried to protect the integrity of the profession. Some have started independent digital news sites. Others are pushing investigative news courses in an effort to fix what is wrong with younger journalists. A couple of the more successful are Poynter and Knight Foundation. But most seem to be losing the fight. They're up against editors who tow the corporate line and younger journalists who are only in the profession for the spotlight. We've seen a deluge of journalists accused of plagiarism and Twitter superstars who get in trouble for posting something outrageous. News outlets think that showing a video from YouTube is newsworthy and make otherwise talentless people famous. Professionalism in the newsroom seems to be dying.

The media has created a monster. Two people died today at its hands. Ironically, they were journalists.

There are a lot of evil forces at work in this world right now. Somehow, Islamic terrorism is the big news while far more American citizens die at the hands of deranged fellow Americans every year. Every day. Gun violence is an epidemic in the US and is shrugged off by sociopaths as perfectly normal. As I'm writing this, breaking news is reporting another shooting in Louisiana. Then suddenly sensationalist CNN and famous journalist Wolf Blitzer go back to the shooting of the Virginia journalists. No more details on the shooting in LA (must be a black guy who died.) They're only talking about the Virginia shooting this much because it happened on live television. They are giving the gunman exactly what he wanted: attention. By sensationalizing violence and by dwelling on the same awful stories, the media are telling deranged narcissists like today's shooter that they can be famous, that everyone will know their names.

Americans love to rail against "The Media," but the reasons for their dislike often have little to do with reality and more to do with the fact that things they don't want to hear are reported on, that bad things happen in life. I suppose they do have a hunch that something is very wrong. But the state of the media is how it is because of them, because Americans demand sensationalism and fluff pieces and poorly written articles. If they didn't want that stuff, media corporations wouldn't report it. If they wanted to have to think, they'd demand that.

Sadly, too many Americans hear news they don't like and dismiss it as being politically slanted, none moreso than gun violence apologists. Already we hear them complaining about anti-gun violence activists using the journalists' deaths as political opportunism.

Bullshit. BULLSHIT. You're only paying attention to us now because it's a high profile media story.

Let me ask you something: why is it that only so-called liberals want to end gun violence? Why do the rest of you accept it as ok? Where is the political will to change this insane gun culture that takes the lives of 30,000 Americans every year? Why are we not calling this genocide? It is, after all, perpetrated by a political group that has its hands on the reins of congressional power in the form of campaign contributions.

One last thought: One of the many flaws of the #BlackLivesMatter movement is that they don't touch on the gun culture. It's always "blame the police" or "blame white people" but never "blame the NRA." Maybe they're afraid to touch the subject. Too many people are afraid of the NRA.

How long are we going to let this insanity go on?

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