Sunday, November 15, 2015

People who damn the media should be careful about what they wish for

Although life hasn't been going well in the media world with the decline of newspapers, it's getting even worse these days with  deranged presidential campaign rhetoric  delivered as applause lines for a mindless right-wing audience.

  Donald Trump, America's first multi-billion-dollar demagogue, hysterically refers to journalists as "scum and garbage'" while his dreamy rival, Ben Carson, insists that without Fox News, "America would be Cuba".

The vituperative pile-on by all of the "Republican" candidates after the CNBC-sponsored debate merely contributed to the national delusion that we would all be better off watching geezer-friendly old TV movies than reading printed words (except Bibles and NRA newsletters).

As a long-time journalist who has been known to be at odds at times  with the modern TV and print media, I have a few words for the critics of the so-called "liberal media". It's called the First Amendment.  It includes, you know,  Freedom of the press", a durable concept  hundreds of years old  that has survived royalty, tyrants and colonial governors.  Moreover, it  doesn't exclude media that you, nor I,  might not  happen to like.

Even a panicky University of Missouri commnications professor, who should have known better, ignored the roots of her profession by shouting for more "muscle" to prevent a  student journalist from doing his job during the  campus protests.  Melissa Click,  who was on courtesy assignment to the staff of the respected  School of Journalism showed such little regard for  press freedom that she later withdrew from the journalism school program with an apology.

Always an apology these days when things go wrong to your disadvantage.  Her troubles may just be beginning.   Another student is seeking action for a charge to  be filed against her for obstructing his presence at the site. She should have learned about such misbehavior  in Journalism 101.

Well, here I go again appearing to be an apologist for my profession when in fact the more relevant issue is whether the political fringe will find its  way to tolerate a free press in a free society in a not- so- free world, even as  Carson finds it political convenient to warn his crowd about Cuba.

Timothy Egan wrote in the New York Times that more than 20,000 newsroom jobs have been lost in America since 2001 - a work force drop of 42 pct.

The problem today is not the press,  but rather its rising death toll.

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