Democrats & Liberals Archives

Headlines, Reactions and Story Flow

Back when I was in the Community College, where I had my first real experience with journalism, they taught us to stack a story based on the importance of the information in the stack. They also taught us that headlines were used to attract the attention of the browsing reader and should make the story more accessible to potential readers. These of course were rules of journalism for students, if you own a newspaper you can use whatever standard you like to decide how a story will be presented. You can even choose a standard that conveys an opposite conclusion to that of the reporter who wrote the story. This type of chicanery used to be the purview of the tabloid press. Guess what folks, the Martians (Actually led by an Aussie!) have landed on our journalistic industry, and they are making hash out of our fourth estate.

Today bold print type headline reversals of reporter’s conclusions that convey the editorial position of the owner of the newspaper are common. This makes for an interesting time reading the WSJ and NY Times every day. The two often run stories that are virtually the same except for the headline. The headlines convey the attitude of the owners of the paper as often as they convey the conclusions of the reporter. The information passed on to their readers is thus less by far than if they stuck to the simple principles taught in journalism school those many years ago. Rupert Murdoch, the antichrist of journalistic integrity, probably has more influence than any information baron in our history. His newspapers follow a rather right wing perspective on reality but that appears to be all right with those who decide how much power any one person should have over our nation’s information services. They keep approving the acquisitions and mergers that trend toward making this man the print media king of the planet. He possibly has the most power over media in general in the USA held by one man in any nation outside of Vladimir Putin in Russia.

Now of course the journalistic power of Murdoch is still limited by the power he transfers to his editors isn’t it? I would not like to be the editor in chief of any of the newspapers owned by Rupert and carry on a running dispute about journalistic integrity with that man. It is clear that anyone doing that would be out of a job before you can say g’day. Recently his control of a satellite service, Direct TV, was affirmed by one of the government agencies that approve such things. I am remanded to the corner of the room where George Orwell wrote “1984” every time I read about another acquisition by Rupert. If watching “fair and balanced” Faux News isn’t enough to convince you that this man is seeking to change the course of our civilization you cannot be saved. Even if you agree with his policies on conveying the news you have to grant that they exist unless your grasp of reality is looser than that of the average bear.

Now is there anything wrong with the power of the press being used to improve the attitude of the masses toward their leaders? Well, it seems like the kind of propaganda use by Stalin and Hitler and every penny ante dictator since those two murderous bastards died is now flowing through our media channels. It might be better if these vehicles for information were used to tell the truth occasionally. Of course I must have a left wing bias if I can’t buy the tawdry misuse of power that makes Faux News “entertaining”. You might be surprised to learn that Joe Stalin was far to the left of any position ever taken by me and he had no problem controlling the press in Russia. Adolph Hitler was far to the right of any of my positions and he had no problem controlling the German press prior to his untimely demise. If either of those men had died the day they were born western civilization would have been better for it. It is autocratic control of the media that is wrong, even if it is exerted by the owner rather than a dictator.

I am a liberal Democrat who has always lived with the working people. We lived in a nation that was on its way toward: better schools, better support for the poor, better health care for everyone, better food supplies for the world, more peace and great entertainment in every home. We have achieved the last thing on that list. The rest seem to be rapidly slip-sliding away, what happened? We have been fed the idea that the free market will answer all questions as long as the government doesn’t interfere. That is like waiting for an infinite number of monkeys using typewriters to write the works of Shakespeare in proper order. It might actually eventually happen but is it worth the wait? I think that it is time to remember what the consolidation of the power of the press meant in Germany, Italy, Russia and other nation’s that have followed that course. Its logical conclusion is the total degradation of the right of the people to be informed. It is impossible to run a democracy without a free and vigorous press watching the watchers that watch the powers that be. We are seriously hampering our press by allowing it to be degraded by excessive consolidation. That will really damage our democracy in the end. God bless and keep you safe in this time of “Freedom” that allows so few people to determine which version of the truth will be allowed to reach our minds.

Posted by Henri Reynard at December 21, 2003 9:14 AM