Sam Smith: Counter Journalism
By Prorev.com Editor Sam Smith
THE DISPARAGING ATTITUDE of major media - from the NY Times and the Washington Post to NPR - towards Internet coverage of election fraud is not just bad journalism. It is counter-journalism that aims to discredit and discourage those attempting real reporting, i.e. trying to find out the story as opposed to merely accepting the ex cathedra statements of officialdom.
Further, the lectures are coming from those who bought the administration's lies on Iraq hook, line and sinker; have yet to tell people the true financial condition of Social Security instead of just the worst case scenario; and avoid mentioning single payer health care in their stories despite its widespread popularity. These are not folks from whom you want to take lessons in journalism.
The rise of counter-journalism within the archaic media reflects a number of changes in the trade:
- The old media considers itself an exclusive institution like a club, church, or the Masons, entitled to judge internally how both members and pretenders are supposed to behave. The lack of respect shown by the new journalism to these rules appalls the anachronic press.
- The media used to be on the outside looking in. Now thanks to the rise of corporatism and journalistic social climbing, it has become part of what it is covering. The result is a severe loss of independence. For example, the term White House correspondent has become a contradiction in terms because even if a reporter tries to do a good job there, the slightest rebellion against the collegial rules of the palace puts the courtier parading as correspondent in danger of losing favor and sources. And what precisely do these sources provide? They tip the reporter off to a cabinet secretary's pending resignation but not, say, to his million dollars stashed in a Cayman Island bank. White House reporting has become a stenographic rather than journalistic activity, as has the coverage of other American institutions.
- The nature of the corporatized press limits the desirability of investigative reporting. Neither employer nor employee wishes to replicate the recent unpleasantness at CBS with Dan Rather. A successful investigation is a risky way to climb the media ladder for the reporter and a threat to the next quarterly return for the boss.
But since you still need news, one way to make it seem as though you are doing something is to outsource your journalism to groups like the Center for Public Integrity or the Project on Government Oversight. Gone is the day when every reporter was meant to be a project on government oversight; now you let POGO do the investigation, you write it up, and if the story's wrong it's not your fault but POGO's. Nice deniability, just the thing a corporation likes. On a single day, for example, three reports by grantees of the Fund for Constitutional Government (on whose board I sit) were featured in the NY Times. Such groups have become a timid media's secondhand nose.
Groups like the aforementioned, independent investigators on the Internet, and lonely holdouts from journalism's past are all doing something much closer to what American journalism is meant to be about than the censored, spun, and desiccated version you find daily in the same elite media that pompously patronizes those who refuse to be servile sycophants like themselves.
The former, however, will increasingly get the story while the latter continue to tell you not to worry, everything's just fine or recite fairy tales about Iraq and why it needs invading. - Sam Smith
WATCHING THE COUNT
AP, NC - A state study commission will convene as early as this week to decide how to overhaul North Carolina's hodgepodge of voting machines -- including the one that lost about 4,500 votes in Carteret County. Other problems included an election night miscount in Mecklenburg County and the delayed discovery of 13,200 ballots in Gaston County. . . Protests and requests for recounts have been filed by candidates for agriculture commissioner and superintendent of public instruction, forcing election workers to again labor over the more than 3 million ballots cast. They have until Wednesday to finish. . . University of Iowa computer science professor Douglas Jones, a voting-machine expert, said the number of votes lost in Carteret County may be a new record.
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER - Harvey Wasserman of Bexley said he tried to vote absentee with the same home address he has used for 18 years but was told he couldn't because his absentee application had the wrong address. "But the notice telling me I had the wrong address arrived at the right address," he said.
NOV 16, 2004
FROM THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW
EDITED BY SAM SMITH
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