Lady Liberty, I will be the poet journalist at your side. This is my promise.
Lady Liberty, hold aloft again your sword. I will pen the record of your work. I will watch over you, Lady Liberty. Lady Liberty, I will protect you from those who would mar your honor with lies and distortions. Lady Liberty, I will guard your honor.
Friends, this very morning I was giving my “Journalism is a bad girlfriend” speech, and feeling bad for having given up on Journalism. And then the JSOnline comes out with this news story entitled “Mining legislation appears all but dead”.
I have seen some blatantly biased news reporting in the past, but this really does take the proverbial cake. Look at this fear-mongering headline, evoking life-or-death imagery juxtaposed over the image of Scott Walker at a home-town manufactory of mining equipment. It might as well be a campaign flier for Walker’s recall election campaign. And don’t forget how much impact Walker’s political advertisments will have on the paper’s bottom line. Clearly the paper’s management hasn’t.
But let’s look at the lead sentence. It’s even more blatently biased than the presentation:
Madison - The marquee job-creation bill of the Republican-controlled Legislature appeared all but dead Wednesday when a key holdout refused to support mining legislation that held out the possibility of work for thousands but could roll back environmental protections.
I’m not going to break down all the ways that there are implicit judgements in the phraseology of this lead sentence because such an exervise quickly becomes mired in pedantry and dictionary lawyering.
But I will offer, to my former employer the Journal Communications Company, free of charge, a re-written lead that least trys to appear fair.
Madison - The state senate is unlikely to muster the necessary support for a controversial mining-bill that Republican leaders in control of the legislature say could create significant jobs for Wisconsin’s struggling economy.
I would be tempted to argue that my version isn’t even really a fair representation of the situation, but at least it leaves room for the potential existence of an opposing viewpoint.
Between the coverage of the Orwellian approach to “public access” being practiced by the Capitol Media Cabal outlined in this brilliant report and this blatantly Pro-Walker/Pro-mining/Pro-Destruction of sacred lands coverage in the JSOnline, journalism has, again, inspired me and then broken my heart. Again.
I believe, in my heart of hearts that Lady Liberty needs journalism. That Journalism is as significant a tenet of a free people as is truth, justice and the pursuit of happiness. But what gets lost, I think, is that journalists – the best ones anyway– don’t have any rights or special powers that you and I, as a regular free and thinking citizens, already have.
The only difference between the kind of journalism I do today and the kind of journalism I did back when I was employed full-time as a reporter is that I don’t have a benefactor paying me 8 hours a day to do it.
It is so important for all of us to take back the fourth estate, and refuse to be bullied into silence. The corporate news machine is no longer a tool of the people. Say no to mass media– it’s only ever wanted to sell you something. You can start blogging tomorrow. For free. And get your story out there. Show Lady Liberty that you still care about her.
I have worked with some amazing journalists, some of whom I remain very fond of, and some of whom I, to this day, cannot stand. And every one of them, regardless of their political persuasion, would say that this coverage is shameful.
Lady Liberty, I will continue to be the poet journalist at your side. This is my promise.
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