Mainstream news media just keep missing the mark

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    “You need quiet, as the deaf mute said to the piano tuner” –Tom Courtenay, The Dresser (1983)
    During the last number of months, the so-called mainstream news media not only has been a day late and a dollar short, it has missed the mark. It has been wrong, wrong, wrong on important political stories — often resorting to clearly biased reporting.
    This is why many now use the term “lame-stream media.” And I can’t think of a better way to describe it. As someone once said, “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.”
    I include the clearly irrelevant broadcast TV networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — and the once proud “Old Gray Lady,” The New York Times. Those still watching or reading them either don’t know or don’t care that each is going the way of the dinosaurs.
    And millions no longer read the big three news magazines — Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. I recall when reporting on Newsweek’s content was part of my high school civics class. Now I couldn’t care less about any of them. These days, some weekly papers — such as the Amsterdam News — provide useful news coverage and commentary, while cable TV’s 24-hour news cycle provides timely reporting. But this is not to say all are accurate and unbiased. More later.
    As a long-time journalist with middle-of-the-road political views, I care deeply about media integrity, honesty and objectivity. I remember when reportage was gospel and stuck to the sacrosanct who, what, why, when, where and how. Gone are the days.
    At this point, I must comment briefly on the president of the United States’ foolish appearance on a daytime TV show—the first time ever. I refer to ABC’s female talkfest The View. If it’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s half-baked entertainment slop such as this booking really serious guests and acting silly.
    Barack Hussein Obama trivialized the presidency by taking time to be on this goofy show with goofy women to answer goofy questions. As the economy tanks and millions of Americans are unemployed, goofy Joy Behar asks about goofy Lindsay Lohan, goofy Mel Gibson and goofy Snooki. No wonder Obama’s approval ratings are at an all-time low.
    That said, here’s three examples of biased, questionable news presentation and staff changes in the news media universe. Look out below:
    The holier-than-thou New York Times: Despite silly TV commercials, it continues a precipitous downward slide. Recently, the paper hyperventilated over a five-page story starting on the front page headlined, “The Afghan Struggle: A Secret Archive.”
    Calling its work “The War Logs” and describing it as a “trove of secret military reports,” the Times barely got past the headline and retreated to characterizations of stuff we already knew. And did they really need five parts to clear their throat? Uh-uh.
    The now-disbanded JournoList: This was a shadowy coterie of some 400 left-wing people from academia, think tanks, liberal activism and dozens of straight news reporters, columnists and editors from major news organizations. Freely blabbing online about their pro-Democrat political biases, one insisted that liberals should label a certain right-wing journalist a racist to scare conservatives away from stories that might harm Obama.
    Founded in 2007 as an invitation-only group by Ezra Klein—a young lefty blogger now with the liberal Washington Post—JournoList shared talking points during the 2008 election campaign about how to shape coverage to help Obama. A key initiative was to ignore and avoid reporting on Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Ugh!
    Essence magazine: This esteemed magazine geared towards Black females just hired a white woman as its new fashion editor. As a one-time contributor, I am disappointed. Without being privy to the reasoning, it strikes me as a slap in the face to Black women.
    This reminds me of a Black-owned, Black-oriented Milwaukee radio station that hired a couple of white call-in talk show hosts. Both eventually were dumped. And rightly so.
    And what about cable TV news—today’s ubiquitous, most effective medium? Its many positives notwithstanding, networks often offer “headlines” about a crime without naming the city or state, and label almost every other story “breaking news.” Equally disconcerting, talking head newsreaders often laugh it up and insert their personal political views.
    In addition, cable news channels pepper their lineups with conservative or liberal political pundits spewing biased opinions ad infinitum. And too many anchors are credibility-challenged, historically ignorant and spend too much time on soft features.
    And where do they get all these lightweight females epitomized by MSNBC airhead Mika Brzezinski of Morning Joe? Ugh! Then there’s NBC’s ever-cackling Norah O’DonneIl, who guffaws at the drop of a hat. Watching both makes me want to throw up.
    Finally, news anchors should stop the boring personal references. Examples are Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly, host of “America Live,” and weekend/fill-in anchor Arthel Neville. The annoyingly bubbly Kelly—a former practicing lawyer—mentions her baby son, husband and “nana” ad nauseam. The annoyingly smug Neville—niece of great singer Aaron Neville—keeps telling us she’s from New Orleans. Nobody cares, ladies.
    Bottom line: It’s no wonder Americans no longer believe or trust what they see, hear and read from institutions and people who report and interpret news. Why should they?

    By Richard Carter, Amsterdam News, 12 August 2010.

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