What’s wrong with journalism? It keeps thinking it can tell people what they “must” do. No, they don’t have to support you. Earn it.

Journalism was a profession that required great humility. Ego cannot drive you when you are looking for facts. You are a soldier who is liberating the truth from lies by creating a map of reality.

Facts speak for themselves, and people have the right to do with facts whatever they wish.

You dig for facts and find them. You do not have to use melodramatic music to expose a tyrant, for example: his tyranny is self-evident when you present facts.

How many Great Men would have been exposed as charlatans if only reporters used facts to tell the story, and not narrative colour.

But the profession destroyed itself when arrogance got in the way — and considering how many grifters use arrogance to present of façade of power, they should have realized that modesty was the way to go.

Yet even now you see that arrogance in every facet of the profession.

The aptly-named Charlatan, the student newspaper of Carleton University that has its own j-school program, has students making conceited decrees that the “public must support journalism.”

No, they don’t.

They do not need you when they have an outlet to express what is happening around them. Journalism is contingent on public goodwill. It is not a divine or necessary part of society.

Yes, people need information, but they don’t need journalists to give it to them. Not anymore. You are not going to get a job in the profession by trying to bamboozle people into thinking that you are indispensable to them.

Nice try, but people liberated themselves from journalism for a reason.

But even those out of j-school don’t get it. CNN plays the same feint with their own opinion piece that “With Trump on the attack, Congress must defend free press.”

No, they don’t. Congress does not have to do that to make your job easier. They are not your guardians, protectors, let alone servants. They are the people who you must keep a watch on without expecting them to ever make your job easier.

There is no They to clean up your messes or have an obligation to do anything for you. Journalists aren’t making any true or deep systemic changes to their profession because they still think some They will make everything good and right for them again.

There is no They. You have to fight for your place in the world. Do not expect fear or pity to turn your fortunes around.

Because They is a lie and a figment of your imagination and will not come to rescue you no matter what kind of temper tantrum you throw…

The War of the Partisan Press continues

For people who want to cover reality and truth of important issues as they are, they no longer have a legitimate media outlet to do it. It is the Era of the Partisan Press where kettles call pots black all the time.

We have Left-wing media and Right-sing media. People are supposed to swear allegiance to one artificial political divide or the other, which means ideology first, and facts don’t matter. Not anymore.

And each partisan outlet can pretend they are the avatars of truth. No, you’re not. You are pointing out your rivals flaws as if yours don’t exist.

CNN is acting childish pointing out that someone who worked for Sinclair Broadcasting resigned due to “obvious bias.”

So, of course, he walks over the line to tell the other partisan press all about it.

Think Progress’s propaganda-fest is even more brazen:

Sinclair Broadcast Group has found itself in hot water in recent days after a script for one of its “must-run” segments was published online. But despite the fallout, the controversy has done little to hamper its efforts to recruit young journalists and those desperate for work.

Cue in the sad violin music, children:

The backlash was swift but has yet to hit the company’s bottom line. Sinclair, America’s largest owner of local news stations, continues to pursue its $3.9 billion dollar purchase of Tribune Media which, if approved, would give Sinclair control of more than 200 stations and the ability to reach more than 70 percent of  American households.

But the worst is yet to come:

But there’s a major problem. Behind the postings — which are often exclamation-point-laden and vague about what the job actually entails — are work contracts which are nothing short of predatory.

In many of those contracts — several of which have been shared with reporters in the wake of the must-run script controversy — Sinclair states that it reserves the right to fire a journalist if they become disabled and can no longer “present a pleasant personal appearance and a strong, agreeable voice.” Sinclair employees also have to agree not to “materially alter his/her physical appearance” or express their own political views. In an employee handbook obtained by HuffPost, Sinclair states, “You should not have any expectation of personal privacy in any communication using Company owned equipment.”

Contracts for content-providers have always been horrendous. Let’s not forget about NDAs that allowed sexual harassment to flourish in newsrooms for years. Let’s not forget that reporters had been underpaid, and often have been forced to sign away their moral rights, as well as their proper compensation if the company chooses to re-use their work.

And in countless cases, people working for media outlets were paid interns working for free and working overtime for an opportunity that never materialized.

But let’s only look at one of the warring factions with the default assumption that the other side is just great. It’s not. It’s equally horrid. It is those predatory contracts that ensure that real journalism was never practiced in the first place because they pay was lousy, and people who were always afraid of speaking the truth and losing their livelihood in a cutthroat market.

Reporters’ salaries have always been pittance, and the turnover is extremely high. You have broadcast journalists in major markets unable to make ends meets, but have to look well-to-do on their own dime. It’s the reason most have to find a second job or two, and even then, everything hinges on the main job that can vanish in a heartbeat.

It was always a lousy system, and Sinclair is just one that takes full advantage of it…

CNN is a down-the-middle news brand!? Hollywood Reporter, just how clueless are you?

The press is so partisan, it has no idea what it shills anymore. The Hollywood Reporter is actually trying to paint CNN as being down-the-middle, and that cable news shows are still a thing.

The so-called “Trump Bump” is not as being as it is being played out on cable; after all, when programs have a few hundred thousands viewers, it is not much of a stretch to account for variances in viewership to a mere margin of error. We are not seeing the hiring sprees one would expect of such a rating boom.

These shows are still done cheaply, and are not as attention-grabbing as they make themselves to be. These are the channels of waiting rooms that merely add to the white noise.

CNN is left-of-cetnre, while CNBC is lefter-of-centre. Fox is very right-of-cente. There is no centrist news outlet.

All three shill to a certain audience: the problem is CNN and CSNBC go after the same audience, and the audience is so small, it cannot accommodate both channels; ergo it is the older-skewing CNN that pays the price…

What happened to CNN? It lost its mandate, and then lost its dignity.

The Hill has an interesting piece about CNN’s loss of dignity and obsession with the American President’s sex life than some other more relevant and less salacious goings-on in the world.

That CNN lost its audience is a given, but it has been tabloid-esque ever since Bill Clinton’s impeachment soap opera and OJ Simpson’s murder trial. It remembered those stories packed in the house, and now it is a replay of the same old script.

Tabloid is about novelty, however. It is a guilty pleasure that has short legs and requires constant one-upmanship to keep it going — and it requires a puritanical narrative that is very much Us versus Them, but the Us is very specific — veer and attack one of Us, you alienate the core.

CNN’s foray has but a single villain. Nothing else, and it’s platform requires a different platform, not the oldest of the news channels.

But CNN’s troubles began when the Fox News Channel debuted. It is something I discussed in my book OutFoxed way back in 2005: CNN was never created to consider competition. FNC, on the other hand, was made to take down CNN. It is the difference in mandates that sealed the fate of CNN. They could never adjust and now they have been struggling and drifting ever since…

Dealing with reality, Part Two: Does gun control actually work? No. We ought to try our hand at violence control instead.

It is hard to believe that people under 30 use the Internet. I am pretty sure they hold fake god phones and stare at the screen looking at absolutely nothing at all.

You are going to have little Marches for Lies because if those kids actually were informed human beings, they wouldn’t be marching or asking for gun control.

They would be calling their representatives demanding violence control.

I am now sure that we have an illiterate generation.

You want gun control?

All right, riddle me this: France has very strict and complicated gun control laws, and this morning we have dead people there because a terrorist used a gun to take a life and take hostages.

France has serious problems with illegal guns. 

Your mental health records are checked…so people bypass that little inconvenience by getting illegal ones.

CNN has a deceptive article stating how gun ownership has been halved in France, but that’s only the legal ones.

Not the illegal ones.

And when you have a terrorist attack over there, killers use other things to mow down people.

No violence control, no solution to homicide.

Canada also has strict gun control laws, and they are getting stricter as we speak…

And yet shootings in this country are very common here.

And it has been violent here for a very long time.

When I was in j-school, I decided for one of my assignments, I would do a piece on gun control because there was heavy lobbying at the time for it.

So I did my research, and had many police officers tell me this wasn’t going to do a thing because the weapons used for killing were mostly illegal ones smuggled in from China — another country that has very strict gun control laws, but is also the world’s leading supplier of illegal firearms.

So the only thing that was going to happen was law-abiding citizens were going to have to pay money and go through more hurdles, while the criminal element were facing no changes to their routine.

And this was over twenty years ago.

Nothing has changed, and yet you have people squawking the same knee-jerk reactions as their parents did at the same age.

No change.

Once upon a time, you could forgive people for making the same mistakes as their ancestors because you didn’t have access to data.

Now it is a different story.

The Internet took away every one of those excuses of not knowing things from different times — or different places.

You have a generation who are incapable of learning from the past, discovering new facts to solve problems, and creating innovative new ways to progressing.

If you truly want change, you must do and think differently.

And marching to the same old tune is not going to prevent the violent from preying on you.

You have a culture of violence. The songs you dance to are violent. The movies you watch are violent. The games and sports you play are violent.

Only when a society decides to tackle the violence problem, will anything begin to truly change.

And there will be more violence because you have too many violent people that are not even deterred by the thought of a life sentence or death in order to take down as many people as they can, all while the sheep are marching because confronting the true problem is too hard and scary to ponder…

Is there hope for journalism? Not a chance. There is too much rot. Why the world needs a fresh start.

There is a Pollyanna mindset in those whose destroyed journalism. Some way, somehow, they think the mess will clean up itself. It’s a mindset from those who grew up sheltered with parents who often have clout as their offspring seek attention and have their sunny dispositions shaped by weed. Journalism is not a profession where being mellow is an asset. You have cutthroats and grifters who know how to manipulate optics — and even data to paint an inaccurate picture of what is really happening.

Of course, not everyone in the business came from privilege, but enough to see what happens when you have not faced consequences in the eye, let alone stared death in the face.

It is not as if things may look bad, but something will save the day. It’s unfixable in its current form.

Both Torstar and Postmedia are the subjects of a Competition Bureau probe, but so what? They did what they said they’d do — close down newspapers. The end.

It is not as if these were thriving newspapers. They were closed because they weren’t. They went past the point of no return.

But you still have reporters believing they can somehow trick people into saving them with ridiculous optimistic campaigns, such as  Journalism Matters.

Always begging for money, of course.

Even if reporters pretend to be pessimistic as they “question” those assertions, they will pin the blame on factors unrelated to the heart of their problems, such as newsrooms being too white and male, before trying to find a saviour, such as “data journalism.”

Nah.

The critical problem isn’t that journalism is “white” and “male.” It doesn’t matter what the packaging happens to be — the same mindset is prevalent in the entire profession. No one has made a single fundamental change.

And data journalism? As if companies can’t fudge data or authorities cannot get it wrong — or keep information back? As if there aren’t flawed measurements? You never heard that figures can’t lie, but liars can figure?

Really? Really?

Because journalism’s collapse is global in scale.

It isn’t just a thing that happened in just North America, the self-proclaimed centre of the universe, where ex-reporters of the Denver Post are sobbing a little too late. Other races and cultures made the same mess of things, too.

We have people from every other country questioning the way journalism is doing its job, such as this sharp column from Pakistan’s Daily Times.

But you have CNN’s Chris Cillizza in La La Land, with “analysis” that is nothing more than childish conjecture about Donald Trump being some sort of real life “reality show” (memo to Cillizza, do you actually comprehend that all major newsmakers could say the same thing as their lives were always under the media microscope?), as if journalism could have any virtuous airs about them.

At least former CNN Soledad O’Brien called out Cillizza for his devoid analysis,  rightfully pointing out that it is that kind of worthless junk that turned millions of people away from traditional journalism, though Cillizza was too thick to get it.

So is there hope for a dead profession?

No.

But journalism can be replaced with an alternative that has far more than hope — but the power to transform and engage the world again…

 

Memo to Axios: America doesn’t hate the media. They let it go because it is useless.

Someone who has some association with Donald Trump has a live televised meltdown, and the press, being the vultures that they are, not only kept the cameras running, they exploited it and made fun of a person whose mental health at that point in time for their own narratives.

jim_vandehei_axios

Axios had an article about the pathetic episode with this observation:

This is one of the reasons America hates the media. Our entire industry lit itself on fire because a troubled Trump hanger-on made an ass of himself — live. 

It was more than that. No one asked questions of Sam Nunberg beforehand: was he drugged, having a mental breakdown, drunk, or was he in any condition to give actual consent to an interview.

When I was in my late teens, I volunteered as a recreationist at a psychiatric ward as I was studying psychology and I wanted more real-life experience. I would bring art supplies, and teach jewelry-making in an informal way, and brought other kinds of crafts, such as polymer clay for sculpting.

It was an eye-opening experience in many regards, but there was a Big Lesson: often, when there was a scandal or bad news on the local news, very often the person who was accountable for fixing it or ending things (such as closing a group or business because of the troubles), there was a good chance the person on television having to deal with catastrophic news ended up in that ward.

They were absolutely haunted and devastated that there was an unhappy ending, often meaning some people were out of a job, people were without an important service, and the attacks and abuse the person had to take because of it, even if they weren’t to blame for the troubles in the first place.

We don’t often look at the consequences of that kind of coverage, but I had seen it long before I decided to become a journalist.

If someone’s mental capacity is in question, there shouldn’t be an interview. He may be drunk, but he may have resorted to substance abuse for some other reason. Or he may have other issues.

It is the reason why I have always maintained that journalists should have mandatory training in psychology. You have to have some basis in real knowledge in the human condition, including knowing how to spot certain personality disorders that may cause you trouble later on because you took the information as is when you are unaware you have to verify that information a different way because the person you interviewed has skewed filters.

This is a black mark on broadcast journalists, without a doubt. They wanted to paint Donald Trump as someone who is surrounded by loons. I am certain if they circled around any president, you will find someone who had substance abuse issues, mental health issues, and the like, considering that a significant percentage of the general population struggles with mental health issues at some point of their lives.

But journalism is ignorant of psychology. They would have loved Bedlam where the general public could pay an admission at asylums to watch the mentally ill. It was entertainment until morals took over perceptions.

And the Nunberg Interview was a form of Bedlam.

But people don’t hate journalism. They stopped caring. They became apathetic because there is nothing of value to them in the product.

It reminds me of marriage counsellors who prefer when couples come in arguing than when one has no connect and is apathetic toward the other. The former means there is still feelings, and with feelings, there is hope to save the marriage.

The latter means it’s over. The partner has made peace that this relationship is over, and has moved on.

And that is what journalists fail to comprehend. They are no longer provoking an audience. The audience left and has moved on because they have found other ways to amuse themselves.

Journalism is dead. Why it is finally time to start its alternative.

CNN was once an all-news network, but now it’s just a carnival. When criticism of their seamless pandering Town Hall is arrogantly dismissed because “they’ll get over it”, you know it no longer has a clue what journalism was all about.

It offered no actual information. It was theatrics and fear-mongering as it exploited terrorized teenagers who lack the life experience to know their agony and fear is being manipulated for ratings sake. They have no idea how to see reality and truth because if they did, they would have skipped the sucker circus and found more productive ways to deal with the issues that changed their lives forever.

So clueless have news producers become that Pointer has an article with the headline:

A journalism educator wonders: How can I teach students how to maintain their credibility?

It is an easy answer: as journalists, there is no way for them to maintain their credibility.

They cannot be credible in a profession that long ago squandered that credibility.

And if they entered a disreputable profession in a time where outlets are closing amid a never-ending stream of scandals and blunders, they are absolutely clueless about truth and reality.

Their judgement is non-existent. It is not as if these students have revolution on their minds. They are dutifully following the old rules and justifying them when all evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that journalism is dead.

Because journalism is dead.

But now is the time to create its replacement that has a chance to begin with the knowledge and wisdom to know what killed its predecessor, and how to avoid the traps that took down journalism.

When educators have no idea how to build credibility, students are deluded as to what kind of profession they are entering, and those still in the business who are actively making things worse, you need to admit that journalism failed, but people still need to be informed.

The problem is that there is no alternative model to do it.

Yet those who peddle in propaganda are not going to play fair while there is a vacuum. Social media is an inadequate substitute. You need expertise and methods of verifying information independently, and then present it in such a way that people can make use of it without having a narrative or spin imposed on that information.

Academia has elements worth considering, but it lacks instinct, savvy, and most importantly of all, speed.

These are considerations. The information stream is polluted, corrupted, toxic, and broken.

A new pipeline would rebuild knowledge and trust.

And in a time where there is rampant fear and irrationality, it cannot come soon enough…

CNN’s hypocrisy: A vested interest in wanting to go after Facebook and Google when CNN was the one who got the mindset rolling.

Jeff Zucker has nerve calling for a probe and Google and Facebook.

Of all the outlets to make such a self-serving demand, CNN is not one to do it. Besides the fact that the outlet has a vested interest in going after the competition, the fact remains that sites such as Facebook and Google would have never been as popular as they were if there wasn’t first a CNN.

CNN was the first all-news channel in the US. It homogenized what was acceptable round-the-clock information dissemination, and ate away from network broadcasters. It may not have been interactive, but CNN was a precursor.

It had international bureaus and aired around the world right before its parent company was bought by AOL Time Warner.

AOL — one the first wave of Internet heavyweights.

Considering CNN was an broadcasting innovator, you’d think that same spirit would compel them to be a news version of Facebook or Google. They had the means, resources, and access to talent to make it happen.

It never took advantage of what it had.

Facebook and Google came roaring along, ready to take over the world with youth enthusiasm as CNN chose to live in a cave.

Facebook and Google fought to set the rules. They defined the Internet, and pushed forward, gaining market share because they were active. CNN just expected the Media Fairy to bring them audiences without thinking about tomorrow.

And now when they have messed up, they want they mysterious organization called They (in this case, “regulators”) to do their dirty work for them.

They are not making this call for the sake of democracy, but their own backsides. The temper tantrum is meaningless, and considering the opportunities they had over the years, this is a real knee-slapper of a tirade. Nice try, but I’m not buying it for a second.

 

CNN denies question-planting. This brings back a lot of memories for me.

Emails? Doctored emails? CNN denies trying to script a question for their “town hall” propaganda piece.

CNN had been caught with question-scripting before. It is not an unusual practice.

I also know the traditional media denials are not always what they appear to be.

Because it happened to me.

I am a very careful chronicler of my exchanges with the press — ever since I was a teenager. I kept more than just emails, but also letters, and even voice mails. When I worked as a journalist, I would tape record all my interviews because I knew that the media wasn’t exactly honest and truthful.

I learned that lesson early on. I was in university when the CBC had a television report about the war in the former Yugoslavia — they based it on a UN report that had been released that day — and it was one I happened to get my hands on as well.

So imagine my surprise when their report contradicted the UN report at the tail end of the story when the anchor’s final words on the story made it very skewed against Serbs (and yet the report said no such thing).

So I called and complained to a producer, who read back the report to me — and conveniently left out the last sentence. I reminded her it was the anchor who said it — and that I recorded that segment so I could play it back to her as I was a perfectly sane person with excellent hearing.

So why deny what was said? I had a video of the newscast. I had the original report. If they believed what they said, they could have defended what they said on air.

I realized how important it was to keep a paper trail when dealing with the press.

When I began working as a journalist, my breakthrough article was in Presstime magazine about the launch of the National Post. I interviewed the then managing editor of the Toronto Star who had boasted that he saw other papers come and go, an he was going to see the Post come and go, too. I asked if I could use the quote and he said yes.

It was a phone interview, I used the quote, and the magazine ran with my story.

And then when it was published, the editor of the magazine had written to me, telling me that the editor I interviewed denied saying that. What did my notes say?

My notes said the same thing as my recorded interview — and proved he said it, he said a lot worse that I did not use as it was just petty, and neither newsworthy nor the focus of the story, and he was given a chance to walk back from that quote, but didn’t. I didn’t trick him. I didn’t expect him to say anything like it because other editors and publishers from rival papers were not behaving in the same swaggering way.

He owned that quote, and I sent the recording.

He said he would apologize to me. He died about a decade later, and never kept his word.

I can tell you right now if it were his word against mine, I would have been screwed. No one would believe a young, no-name female reporter. No one. It would have ruined me before my career truly began.

Despite the fact that the magazine kept me on, and I managed my career just fine, I was shaken by that exchange. I was shaken despite the fact I had learned before I was a journalist the importance of documenting my interactions with the press because you never knew what they would do to get out of a scrape.

Emails can be released, but it says very little. Television news is scripted from beginning to end. Even talk radio, where you have callers phoning in, are screened carefully.

What becomes of this squabbling, I have no idea, but screening, editing, scripting, and choreographing are television news staples. The safest route when dealing with journalists is to record everything during an interview as well as before and after, save every email and voicemail, and make sure you keep back-ups of everything, and do not exaggerate or try to bolster your claims by editing emails if you didn’t record the incriminating phone call, personal interview, or the conversation before or after it.

Also, tell them you are recording. Do not make trouble for yourself by breaking any laws. I have always been upfront about it — and I still had an editor deny something he knew beforehand was being recorded by a journalist.

There will always be a denial if you have a dispute with the press. There will always be a spin that hints that you are a devious liar or a hysterical loon who is now suffering from a case of remorse, and that they are perfect and sane truth-tellers who are always honest and accurate.

I know because I have been there.