The Problem with Alt Media: It’s no better than the traditional media: Why Vice isn’t journalism’s answer

I never cared for Vice. 

vice-og.pngSmug, shallow, pretentious, patriarchal, and with misogynistic subtext.

It proclaims to do things differently, but if bad science is what is defined by differently, then they can keep it.

When there is some artificial story about women, it is always some pseudo-feminist wallowing that sees women as perpetually victims. 

Not cool or even remotely accurate.

It is not surprising to me that the outlet is facing accusations of having a work environment that is hostile to women.

Ya don’t say?

It’s not learned, or hip, or edgy, or cool. It’s bad journalism with blinders on. What it offers is something worse than the gold standard.

Journalism always suffered from smug ignorance and a lack of focus and discipline. That is the bottom line of why the profession smothered itself to death.

So having alleged indie media that upped the smug ignorance, and wear their lack of focus and discipline as a badge of honour…well, don’t expect any miracles for a journalistic resurrection.

We don’t have good journalism out there right now. One or two guerrilla fighters are left in the field, and Ronan Farrow is just about the only one out there right now who can actually call himself one.

I have been an author and media critic for a very long time. I have always fought for good journalism, but when people keep adding the same toxic ingredients in their own recipes, they cannot expect anything but a poisonous product that infects an information stream.

And that is the Internet’s greatest shame and dilemma: it has corrupted the information stream. It has allow toxicity from both the Left and the Right to pollute information, making information consumers sick in the bargain. They can’t seem to stand back, and realize they have to scrap everything they know, and start over.

Vice is a very appropriate name for an outlet that has not contributed a single thing to journalism, save make it more radioactive than it was before.

Misogyny has no place in a newsroom. You cannot expect real change from some place that made its name peddling arrogance, and was rewarded with its own ways.

And it is a problem that is not going to go away by throwing a tantrum on Twitter or expecting the nebulous They to do anything about it.

Patriarchal Storytelling and how it killed journalism

Us versus Them. It seems that is the only story we are capable of telling. Good guys (us, of course, you wouldn’t say we were the villains), and bad guys (the people who disagree with us, and aren’t applauding our every thought).

People these days are attacking all sorts of other people, with even death threats because someone’s life requirements do not line up perfectly with theirs.

It is a sick, sick way to view the world.

Yet good luck finding reportage that challenges that obnoxious, childish, self-serving narrative.

But that is the way of patriarchal narratives. It is all about The One: how the One was right/better/superior than the mindless hordes. Offer a different way of solving a problem that goes against The One, you must automatically be some sort of usurper out to do horrible things to people.

It would be nice to see a more constructive way of seeing things, you know, like Us with Them. How do we coordinate so that both sides can understand there may not be a better in the equation, and that both sides have rights?

But the second you offer that structure, people bring up Hitler as proof that in every single situation, there is a super-bad evil-doer, and should we have worked with the Nazis, too?

Please, do not be stupid — and binary.

Cue in Matriarchal storytelling.

In the Matriarchal,  we are always aware that it is not always Us versus Them. Sometimes it is, but other times, it Us With Them, or Us going our independent way from Them, or Us Versus Us, or Them versus Them and it’s none of Us’s business. There is no One Rule That Explains Everything. You cannot memorize a single rule and then apply it to everything — or worse, think you must always go a little more extreme to prove you are a better follower of the rule than someone else.

Journalism was always about following rules, from Inverted Pyramids to news pegs. So it should be no wonder that the Patriarchal style of telling stories was highly appealing.

But then came social media and people having a chance to be their own PR hacks, spinning and justifying their every action, jockeying to be The One.

Journalism became lost in that game, and instead of questioning their own structures, they went to the extreme version of it.

We can see it in the coverage of Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein, the latter who can be easily characterized as a villain. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was also an easy target. It should be no wonder that in the death throes of the profession, journalists are sticking to their own patriarchal ways of telling stories. You need us! is the subtext of these yarns, Because look at all the bad guys out there!

Well, of course there are evil people, but when you have but a single lens to see the world, guess what? You lose focus. You begin to see every person who is not kissing your feet as they put you on a pedestal as a villain, instead of a righteous, fed-up person who is standing up to your cancerous ego as they put you and your self-entitled self in your place.

And if you ever wanted to know how the Harvey Weinsteins of the world are created, just go back and read the news stories about him before the truth came out. He was placed on a pedestal. Reporters were writing fawning stories about the Great Man, and what a cultured and brilliant visionary he was. He owned the Oscars. He ruled Hollywood, yes sir, because he was The One.

He was on the positive side of the Patriarchal paradigm.

And now he is on the negative.

Had journalists taken a more sensible matriarchal approach, no one would be going in thinking he was some cinematic deity. They would be digging and looking at all sides of the story, not the tripe bored Middle-class people look for so they know what to rave about at the backyard barbecue party to look hip and in the know.

The Patriarchal is all about designating angels and demons, and no one wants to be a demon — and even if people pretend they want to be a badass “demon”, they want to be a Mary Sue demon who is, in fact, an angel with an attitude who happens to be better than the angels.

The Matriarchal goes in knowing that people are people — and too much praise has always been a surefire way of making good people bad ones in short order.

Journalism lost its common sense with the Patriarchal, and it became irrelevant, always chasing after villains, instead of just looking for facts. Just the facts. Had facts been put out there, the predators of the world would lose much of their tyrannical clout. There would be no need for hatchet jobs, because when there were the first signs of trouble, that information would be out there when it counted — before people got hurt and had the course of their lives altered forever.

And people would be held accountable early on, and would be too busy to have to time to work on their image — or harming other people.

We are in an age of sophistry and extreme arrogance. Everyone is convinced they are The One.

No, you’re not.

You are one of an Infinite.

It is not always about hunting, but gathering as many grains as you can to see the big picture.

And only when reporters grasp that grain of truth can journalism ever get that resurrection it has longed for.

Just how bigoted are the press? Substitute the word “Black”, “Gay”, or “Muslim” for “Russian” and you’ll find out. Memo to mainstream media: your ugly roots are showing…again

The press has always had a hate for anyone of Russian or Eastern European ancestry. Whenever they had to cover anything from those regions, the inaccurate reportage went something like how Hollywood portrayed Chinese Americans in 1960s sitcoms.

The American press have always been roving bigots. They will relentlessly attack one group of people before they revolt, and then switch to a “safer” group to tear apart. Right now, Orthodox Christians and Republicans are fair game.

Why?

Because journalistic narrative has always been Us versus Them, with “Us” always being the heroes with no flaws, save a Mary Sue one here or there, and the “Them” being villains who are somehow always out to take over the world, mwah ha ha and all that jazz.

As someone who is Eastern European by blood, working as a journalist was never an easy thing in general. I was born and raised in Canada, and yet, I’d be asked about my “accent”. No, I do not have one that differs than any other North American accent, and the act of othering was always a way of letting me know I was not one of you. No one asked about my alleged foreign accent when we spoke on the phone…but the second I walked into a room, that was question number one. Sometimes people never heard me speak at all, and then asked about that phantom accent even before I had a chance to open my mouth.

That’s profiling.

And it is not okay to profile people, even if they are white. Even if you are not white. Even if both of you are not white.

The press hates Russians and slavs. So do the Democrats. For them, the hate is acceptable bigotry. The Russians were just wonderful when they rescued Eric Snowdon from his own government, but the sore losers just had to blame Russians when things did not go their own way in November 2016.

The press conveniently forgets that every American regime has meddled in the elections of other countries. Every one. Americans have bombed people and invaded countries, replacing whoever they didn’t like with a leader they did.

And it was the press who clamoured for that interference, sacrificing nuance and complexity for antagonism, costing millions of people the loss of their peace, homes, families, and even lives.

Did Russians meddle in US elections? I would be surprised if there wasn’t meddling of some sort from every country with the means to do so — in 2016 and in every election before that. People in power tend to be control freaks.

Does that meddling rig elections? No, of course not. People don’t look at anything but their own lives when going to the ballot. If they are doing well financially, they stick with the status quo.

But if their lives are spiralling out of control, they blame the incumbent, and vote the bums out.

Meddling is white noise. If Americans were more prosperous, they would have voted a Democrat in the White House, the Senate, and Congress.

Three strikes meant Americans were letting the Dems know that they failed. If Russians were truly involved, that would mean they meddled in every level of the vote, not just the White House — and that would mean that the US press and government were the most incompetent morons in the history of civilization.

Is that what the press is claiming?

That isn’t just lunacy: that merely proves the news corps has no respect for their own citizens.

And if they have no respect for them, that means they are not informing a public, but dictating their thoughts to them.

The Republicans kept dropping the ball in the past year because they were still miffed that their Chosen One, Jeb Bush, got kicked to the curb; so they lost quite a few seats in 2017.

As one campaign strategist once quipped, It’s the economy, stupid.

But hey, why look inward, when you can spew like a  real bigoted paranoid conspiracy theorist?

Just replace the word “Russian” with any other trigger group, and the article’s true chauvinism becomes unsettling.

Memo to the Post: stop blaming Drudge, Russia, Trump, and blue collar workers for losing face in public. You backed a conniving, pseudo-feminist turkey. You lost sight of reality. Deal with it like adults, and not temper tantrum-throwing brats.

By now, every editor and journalist should realize what a sham the political system is in every country in the world — how people have been oppressed, harmed, and confined by it. Far from becoming partisan sycophants, you should have become political atheists and radicalized centrists.

Instead, you became ignorant and arrogant propagandists, getting sucked into stupid games.

Stop demonizing people. Stop telling people to be afraid, and how to think like sheltered cowards.

You are meddling in the same way you accused the Soviets of meddling.

Isn’t any wonder that journalism isn’t a thing anymore?

Good Riddance (Print) Teen Vogue: Why teenage girls don’t need to be treated as pigeons any longer

The print edition of Teen Vogue is gone. Good. Indoctrinating pigeons is never a good thing. Telling young girls how to think, act, and dress is not a good thing, either.

The rag tried to dictate to young girls how they ought to be acceptable Democrats, and it didn’t work. They primed them to be dutiful consumers of fashion houses, and when that didn’t work, they served them on a platter to the DNC.

At that age, you are not supposed to play by your parents’ rules. You don’t follow a political party: you tear them all down as you make demands, and then create your own.

Women don’t make political parties. Or cities. Or countries. On that, women are very far behind the men, and shame on women for that. We aren’t perfect, and we are not beyond questioning and criticizing.

Teen Vogue was always limousine liberal paradise that really hid reality from their target audience: sheltered girls who really do not understand that they are being exploited to think they are inadequate if they do not dress or think in a certain way.

It also kept hidden how disposable girls are when they do not have a mommy or daddy being the helicopter meddlers in their lives.

The girls who were thrown out of the house, who live on the streets, juvey, foster homes, and shelters find out just how expendable young girls are.

For all the lip service of “girl power”, girls are led down a garden path, thinking that they are empowered, gifted, talented, beautiful, and special.

Yet they are expendable and disposable. They have no idea what life is like if they are made to face that world with no one standing behind them.

And that is a huge weakness in modern feminism: it tells young girls that they have a power that they do not actually possess, and should they try to strike without understanding certain realities, they are going to get the surprise trampling of their lives.

Sure, women have power, so long as they understand the reality of the battleground, and publications such as Teen Vogue does an excellent job of presenting an illusion. It never showed the ugly side of what teenage girls actually endure: from sexual abuse, to societal misogyny to rape culture to no social service net should they fall through the cracks.

And it is a global crisis: from Boko Haram to human trafficking to polygamous cults to Hollywood sexploitation of minors to the covert genocide of Canadian Aboriginal women to Thailand pedophilia brothels, young women around the world have been tormented, tortured, and enslaved in disturbing numbers.

Yet in all the cheerleading of propagandistic rags such as Teen Vogue, girls get a very wrong idea of what life is in store for them. They don’t see that university may bring them in the clutches of their rapist at a campus party. They don’t tell these girls about the pay inequity they will face or the precarious employment that will forever alter their lives.

It will have vultures tell them how empowered they are, but not a thing about the sexual harassment or discrimination they are going to have to deal with until the day they die.

Life is not a place where a fairy princess can exist. It is a place where young women have no idea that they are soldiers in a war and often the battleground is their own homes and workplaces.

These publications see girls and women as pigeons to be fleeced: not audiences to respect and inform about reality.

And women don’t need another delusion to hold them back any longer. What they now need is strategy and a plan to truly breakout of their hamster wheels.

The Blinders of Journalism, Part Two

I was listening to Newstalk 1010 this morning to their panel of opinionists (called a Roundtable), and it is always interesting: spewing know-it-all decrees with panelists wearing blinders and giving no context is supposed to be informative entertainment.

press_NewsTalk1010.jpg

When I was writing When Journalism was a ThingI used to listen to it just to break down the ways journalistic blinders tainted the news product. I had my fill of it, but as things are slowly beginning to ramp up over here, I began to listen to it again.

This morning’s offering was particularly instructive.

Hollywood’s sexual harassment woes aren’t going away just yet, which it shouldn’t. Decades-long workplace abuse should be hashed out in public. In a world where news cycles are too short to be helpful, this story is a throwback to an era that had a longer attention span.

The morning’s prattle revolved around Kevin Spacey getting scrubbed out a movie. (This article is skewed as its author pushes a little too hard cheering the move, which is not surprising given that Hollywood is a business filled with attention-seeking narcissists who must be having a prolonged trauma being called out on the carpet for their tolerance of uncool behaviour, but I digress).

But to hack Christie Blatchford, it was all too much, and she whined about the “saturation point” of this ongoing story.

Mind you, it was all too much when it first broke out to her. The implication was that somehow, this was all a “witch hunt” — a very popular phrase for people who were happy sweeping the rot under the rug. Blatchford is in the same boat as relic Gay Talese who said actor Anthony Rapp should have “sucked it up” and kept quiet at what Spacey did to him when he was fourteen because it ruined a letch’s career.

Truth should not be reported, according to these alleged journalists, because it ruins the lives of people who ruined the lives of others, and who are we going to invite to the next dinner party so we can all pretend everything is wonderful, wonderful amid the fake laughter and hors d’oeuvres the wait staff spat on prior to serving them?

Blatchford’s illogic for being offended by the story was that — get this — she alleges that since she was never sexually harassed at work…that somehow this story was getting blown out of proportion.

This isn’t even thinking. This is what sheltered and judgemental helmet-haired women who wear white pantyhose even in the summer say at church when a kid complains that the priest molested them. “Well, the priest didn’t molest me; so, therefore, he didn’t molest you, either.”

I have worked with people who were beyond nice to me, but they weren’t nice to other people. Abusive people don’t always abuse every person in their wake. There are families where a relative sexually abuses one child, but not others. Just because you (a) weren’t sexually harassed, (b) thought you weren’t sexually harassed, but were used to being abused in that way to the point of thinking this was normal, (c) know you were sexually harassed, but keep quiet because you don’t want to burn bridges or tarnish an tough image, and keep quiet, or (d) made your way up on the casting couch thinking it was your idea, but were too gullible to know that you were being primed and groomed to think it was all your idea to crawl through gutters for a nothing gig that let other predators know it wasn’t your brains or talent that got you that job — doesn’t matter — people get abused on their jobs, and abused frequently.

Getting a job in Hollywood is seen as coveted. Billions of dollars are at stake, and we are supposed to believe all these camera-mugging egotists are always professional? In a place where there is heavy drug use, anything can and does happen.

There may be a lot of smiling in front of those cameras, but actors never struck me as being particularly happy people. Women get lousy roles, and show a lot of skin as they chase after and drool over men in storylines. It never particularly appealed to me as a form of entertainment. I can’t remember the last time I went to a movie theatre. I binge watch shows from time to time, but I haven’t watch a single American program once the scandal hit, and knowing me, I don’t think I will for a very long time.

It’s not a boycott. I just have other things I would rather do, and don’t feel like giving attention to that industry right now. I can always reassess at a later date.

But Establishment journalists who blindly follow the idea of the Great Man, such as Talese and Blatchford, have their preset narratives, ready to cheer those who hold power at any cost. Defending those in power may be their thing, but that isn’t journalism. It’s spin, and it has no place in the news world.

Watching journalists running on their hamster wheels

As an author, it’s my business to watch journalists, and I have been journo-watching for a couple of decades.

They are dutifully running on a hamster wheel, never questioning the insanity of thinking that running on a hamster wheel is necessary and proves they are dedicated to their jobs, and now they have been doing it for so long, they now believe that it is normal. They get upset whenever someone points to them and questions why they are running on a hamster wheel.

They see themselves as smarter-than-thou beleaguered heroes, but what I see is much more realistic:

This article appeared on Poynter and elsewhere, and is the perfect example how clueless people in the news business are to reality — their own, and everyone else’s.

The article is filled with cringe-inducing buzzwords, and filler lists that don’t say much of anything. So far, nothing new from the trenches.

The author’s thesis is that journalists were once assembly-line workers, and now they are not.

Well, let’s test that theory.

The implication is that journalists are now more nomadic…and that’s supposed to be an improvement — but both are different kinds of bad.

Assembly-line workers were never asked to think, lead, or to innovate — they just dutifully follow instructions. When they lose their jobs, they also lose their roots. Reporters are floundering, throwing mud at people who were once in power, but are now on shaky ground — so they are deciding to take everyone else down with them.

That’s not journalism; that’s a petty vendetta from a dying industry.

The author of the piece proclaims that journalists and editors are increasingly turning down story ideas from PR people, but of course, who they are turning down are smaller shills who don’t need them, and are doing what President Trump did — go to social media so they don’t have the stench of journalists endorsing whatever person or product they are paid to shill. The more capable hacks are still controlling their message in the press the same as they did before. They have become more sophisticated, not less.

The article goes on to state outright that journalists pander to any audience willing to have them, which itself is an admission of tailor-making propaganda to fit whatever a certain audience wants to hear.

But the kicker of the entire piece — and something the author completely misses is this observation:

Sit next to digital brains and learn from them. Don’t surround yourself with people who have legacy skills. Listen to the talk. Watch over their shoulders. Learn a new skill each week.

And this one:

Reach out to digi-brains and talk to them about things they want to learn more about: story development, building sources, story approach, history about the coverage area.

In other words, do not do your own thinking, innovating, or leading: find someone you can follow and mimic them.

You know, like an assembly-line worker.

And the hamster wheel spins around and around and around…

Local isn’t local anymore: Why Gothamist was never going to fly

Still more writhing by those in Gothamist and its sister publications. Journalists for the publications are blaming their billionaire owner for shutting them down when they really ought to look at the bigger picture, because local news’s problem are a lot bigger than just daddy tycoon refusing to indulge the scribes.

The online news kids always saw themselves as hipper than their print counterparts. They are the same. They have the same underlying problem. Local print publications have been folding for a reason — and they did it far better than the new guard. The seemingly less formal structure of online news made it seem more in tune with audiences, but what it was had been more sloppy, and worse, more naive.

Marshal McLuhan talked about a Global Village, and news made the international local. The world shrunk, but the standards became higher. When the world’s repository of news can all be found on the Internet, people will go for the bigger entities: they will shun a local paper for a big city or national counterpart.

And now when more news sites are putting up firewalls, demanding money to read their dreck, people will pick and choose, and the local is going to lose.

Look what has happened in the last year: 7.4 billion people on Earth, and there is just the one newsmaker: US President Donald J. Trump. That’s it. No one else exists, anymore. It’s his world now. The monomaniacs have won. Who cares about your local alderman when he is not nearly as eccentric as the American president?

The press kept hyping up newsmakers to the point you have to be outrageously over-the-top and turbo-flamboyant to be seen, heard, and remembered for more than two seconds.

Local news is being whumped by national media outlets.

Gothamist was never going to survive with a billionaire owner — why bother with the hyperlocal at all? Who really cares about local news?

People should care, but the climate is not receptive to it.

But that is not the fault of the rich and powerful. That is the fault of reporters chasing after caricatures, and looking for sensational stories — instead of examining where they have gone wrong — and how to fix the ways they interpret the world.

Harvey Weinstein’s war tactics are nothing new: How war propaganda has been working for decades

Kudos to Ronan Farrow for exposing Harvey Weinstein’s war tactics. People not schooled in the ways of journalism are surprised, but may not get all the nuances of what Farrow’s piece is actually telling you: that those who live in the public eye seeking publicity do an awful lot to manipulate the battleground to get all the fawning advertising-press, and will resort to war tactics to keep their ugly truth from the public.

Here is a man willing to demonize those he preyed on. Let that sink in how far he was allegedly willing to go. All while you thought how cultured and refined you were for raving over a disposible Miramax movie, there was some serious and dangerous war games going on behind the scenes. The movie was the distraction and the misdirection. The power was the goal.

Now all along, journalists informed the little people that it was a good thing to rave about these movies. They did not inform the public their patronage was supporting something horrific. You were giving money to a villain who you thought was a good guy, and he became rich and tyrannical at your expense.

That should make you very nervous.

But that is nothing compared to what entire countries and robber barons do in order to rig a war to fix an outcome.

Wars are fought on multiple fronts, but the media front is the most important one. Reporters cover wars, telling their audiences a story that may have nothing to do with what is actually happening.

If one movie studio owner can fool (read: dictate and manipulate) them for decades, an entire government can do a lot more damage. In the United States, at least, since 1938, there is a way to find out whether or not a certain foreign company might be playing those same games.

It is this Justice Department web site.

It is a very exhaustive database that spans back years. You can look up a country, and see which US-based public relations firms, law firm, lobby group, and the like, they have hired, and when.

Because wars have been won because vested interests hired these firms to make their case to the public in order to influence US foreign policy.

It is essential reading for people who want to know how lies become news. In fact, I would go here before I went to traditional news sources. Warring countries hire multiple firms to ensure they win a war and make the world believe they are justified in harming people whose life requirments differ.

Both Gulf Wars and the Civil War in the former Yugoslavia had fought this way — and each case, the designated villain in these stories did not have a PR firm to fight for their image.

Weinstein merely took a page out of their books.

Journalists are not supposed to fall for those games. They are not supposed to play those games, either.

But they still do — choosing a side that pays money to make sure the press swallows their narrative without question.

And way too many times for comfort, they do swallow it.

But there are Ronan Farrows out there who question the narratives of the tyrants and push forward to tell the world to stop sleepwalking and accept things without question.

The problem is many people prefer to ignore those warnings and think it is only a one-off, and that some mysterious organization called They will make it all better.

There is no such group, and if there was, They owe you nothing.

And the tyrants keep getting away with it for far too long.