And who can blame them? Newspaper reporters get paid for shit. TV news reporters in anything but the largest markets get paid somewhat less than pet groomers. And radio newspeople, if they exist at all - fuhgeddaboudit.It is sick. Most journalists don't make it out of their twenties or early thirties in the business. They can't afford to. They sell out, go into PR or marketing or technical writing (ahem) because they have families and bills to pay and food to put on the table.
But some people persist. They persist because they believe in the power of watchdogs, the power of letting people know the truth. God bless our ink-stained wretches. I wish I could bring myself to be one of them, which is why it galls me to no end to read shit like this comment on a friend's blog:
Actually, I don’t think there are any fair an balanced journalists out there.That kind of talk raises my blood pressure. I know it is a popular view, a view that is encouraged by those in power and also by the crappy quality of news, especially TV news.
But realize this, people: those in power love your cynicism. They feed it. There is a reason they are always trying to inject skepticism about journalism, about schools, about government, into our lives. Right-wing talk shows and certain news channels are all about destroying our beliefs in these things, because if we become cynical, we quit participating. We quit reading the newspaper, we take our kids out of the schools, we don't vote. All of those things are great for the powerful, because the less we participate, the less they have to do to gain the upper hand.
Who else is there to keep an eye on things? Business and government aren't going to police themselves. Is journalism important? Only important enough that the founders mentioned it in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Anyone who doesn't believe that journalists try to be fair and balanced should spend some time in a newsroom and listen in on the conversations and see the lengths people go to to get the other side, even if the other side is a bunch of nutballs (I always use the example that if there is a group that is against killing puppies, your editor wants you to get a quote from the one loco who thinks killing puppies is a fabulous idea). The reporters I worked with lived and breathed and bled for fairness. 90% of them were true believers, people who tried and tried and tried some more. And the others weren't bad, just tired and depressed.
Do I think journalism is in trouble? Absolutely. But IMO it isn't because of the mass of idealistic, hard-working journalists. It is because of the corporate media conglomeration and cutbacks in budgets. Pay journalists well and give them a decent expense account and THEN see what kind of reporting you get. But if we did that, they might dig up some REAL dirt, the kind of dirt that takes time and money to find...no, better to report on Paris Behind Bars.
In the meantime, I'm not asking you to read the paper or watch the news, but I would like to ask you to examine knee-jerk reactions like "there are no fair and balanced journalists" and try to figure out where that came from. Perhaps you are being manipulated and don't even know it.