As Ralph Strangis wrote recently for The Dallas Morning News: “We confuse journalism with stenography. We value flash and ignore substance. We celebrate attractive media stars and give our time to wardrobe choices and car crashes and body counts. Memes reflect and define our collective truths and 140 characters test our patience. Expediency outweighs all else.”
The result is a culture in which CNN and Fox News pass for “journalism.” Our nation is poorer for it.
Daily small victories
Think about it. For years now, many would-be king-makers have decried the “lamestream media,” instructing their acolytes not to trust those who strive to uncover facts and present them to the populace.
The result? We now have a large segment of the public that thinks Donald Trump is a worthy presidential candidate despite all evidence to the contrary. Trump can be trusted, they believe, because the media doesn’t like him and the media can’t be trusted — facts be damned. There are many, many reasons for Trump’s rise, and psychology students will be writing Master’s theses about it for years to come, but the persistent denigration of the truth-tellers is one of those factors.
Given this change in the culture, I felt a twinge of pride a few weeks ago while watching “Spotlight.” I recognized the nobility of journalism — or any profession requiring profound dedication to a profound cause.
It is this media, after all, that over the years has uncovered inhumane conditions at mental institutions, and the Watergate scandal, and how a governor repeatedly raped a 14-year-old girl. The sexual abuse of children by priests proved to be a worldwide scandal, and the unraveling of that scandal began with a handful of journalists in a basement office in Boston.
Few of us who spend a lifetime in this profession have the opportunity or the skill to uncover such a monumental story. And yet there are smaller victories on a daily basis. It is important, after all, to know when your property taxes are being raised.