To say journalism was always problematic is a gross exaggeration. Some of history’s best archives were not created by academics, but journalists.
But journalism was always problematic in many ways that are now devouring it.
For one, they never really defined the terms of their profession the way academics did.
They never developed a journalistic method the way academia created their scientific method, for instance.
They never saw the world as a laboratory where proper comparisons and contrasts could be made. They never questioned the reliance of narrative over focussing on the quality of facts.
And, most heartbreaking of all, they never looked at those people who fell through the cracks.
We can take any vulnerable group — from Aboriginal women in Canada who have been victims of a subversive genocide, to young boys who were molested and passed around in Hollywood — and once they got too old and addicted to drugs, were cast off as “has-beens” to be forever made fun of by idiots who never seem to have either sensitivity or a clue about reality. Two very different groups of dispossessed, yet the press never cared about the prolonged and brutal abuse of either.
There were so many fawning and self-congratulatory articles about the greatness of Hollywood over the decades that was nothing more than advertising for an industry raking in billions. No one really thought that there should be investigative stories to see what happens to young and vulnerable kids who aren’t supervised in a world of hedonistic indulgences.
Or why so many native women in Canada had no place to go, and then just no longer appear in any place whatsoever. The press never looks at the ugly side of anything until it is too late — and when they do, they behave as if everything will be cleaned up by magic in a week.
News stories come off as advertising: here is an unsightly inconvenience, use Product X, problem disappears, and now your neighbours will be jealous. The end.
The press does like to pick on and bully the weak. They love to make fun of people who are unrefined. They adore the politically correct and drool over the wealthy. If it is a choice between picking sides of a government or an average citizen, they have no use for the average citizen.
After all, perhaps someone in the government will give them tidbits of gossip for the next story.
Once upon a time, reporters stood up to governments, regardless of their political leanings. They exposed corporations and held them accountable.
Now, they hedge their bets on which side is more likely to reward them with a patronage appointment.
Why did Harvey Weinstein finally get exposed as a predator?
Because his company isn’t as profitable as it was in the 1990s.
When people and companies get exposed only when they are already weakened, the journalism is not impressive.
A functional press hits the most powerful in their prime because that is when the most damage is being done — and when true remedies can actually be effective.
Nor do they openly take sides. Any journalist with a true sense of honesty, reality, and morality cannot lean Left or Right. It is a de facto admission that you refuse to look at one half the landscape. One half of the people cannot trust you to even see them honestly or realistically. You are a mere follower — a brainless drone or zombie whose by-the-numbers assessment is anything but truthful or accurate.
Political atheism ensures that no one can spin you with their self-serving decrees. Otherwise, it is akin to holding death grudge against someone who prefers Crest when you push for a Colgate-agenda. Sanctioned insanity has no place in journalism, and yet the profession has devolved to a place even more primitive than the pre-Penny Press Era of wanton partisanship.
That is the realm of fantasy and wishful thinking. That is the place where sink or swim thinking, as well as appeal to authority and the confirmation bias hijack common sense.
A vigilant press does head counts. They wonder aloud about the safety of their citizens. How come so many Aboriginal women in Canada go missing or live on the streets? Why is the government apathetic to human life? Had the press been doing its job years ago, a lot more women would be alive — and many of their murderers would have been thwarted.
How come so many child actors in Hollywood get damaged beyond repair? Why do so many of them wind up dead before they are twenty, thirty, forty?
Is it because the press needs a pecking order to feel superior to one group — and feel smug about the downfall of another?
The press has failed many people — they not only failed them, but can never make up to those fallen souls. They always suck up to certain “acceptable” groups, but shun those who are different or have less media training than others.
We talk about the ever-growing chasm between rich and poor, never considering how much of a free pass the press gave to those robber barons. They praise and fawn over Great Men, but never have the courage to push for the truth. The narrative of winners is too much of a lure.
The press is not here to enable delusions. It is not here to make con men rich. It is not here to give a cover of legitimacy to rapists. It is not here to fawn over psychopaths.
And yet, it continues to bully and mock. It continues to cheerlead and destroy lives. Journalists demanded governments bomb people to death, and then sniff how barbaric people are for rioting and stoning their fellow man.
That isn’t journalism. That is a disgrace.
Journalism needs a serious reeducation. It needs to embrace humanity, idealism, and understanding. It needs to admit to their own insufferable flaws that are cannibalizing a once noble profession.
But as it continues its predatory games, it finds itself increasingly isolated and irrelevant to the world that it purports to cover.