Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Has Happened To "The Press?"

It's quite an ubiquitous question, plaintively cried far and wee across the blogosphere, echoing louder now with the passing of the last of the giants of that earlier age: What Happened To The Press?

It's pretty simple, really. It's not competition. Nobody now does what "The Press" formerly did better than it did it, which is to report the news (as distinct from the manufactured "pseudo-events" of press releases, canned, speeches, and artful stenography).

What killed "the Press" (and make no mistake: "the Press" of the First Amendment is moribund, is brain-dead, comatose, on feeding tubes and ventillators) is "Corporatism."

Yup. Just that. Corporatism, plain and simply.

The "problem" with the SCUM** is that they are merely animatronic avatars, quickly and easily replaceable salary-servants in corporations the main business of which is not anything even remotely related to the functions of the Press as they were imagined when "the Press" was accorded the protection of the Constitution.

Corporatism is fundamentally at odds with the best principles of "the Press," the "fourth Estate." Corporations, since the very act of their original conception, have sought to gain control of the State. The wars of the 20th Century were fought to determine which form of Fascism would prevail. Corporations desire closed, authoritarian deliberations based on principles of possession and ownership of valuable resources. "The Press" has it's whole constitutionally protected purpose the exposure of the private details of public business, which is the one thing that CorpoRats detest most: Public oversight.

The corpoRats killed off the Press when they bought it out, lock, stock, and barrel, in the '80s and '90s. The corpoRats closed bureaus, fired staff, eliminated any semblance of any remaining "firewall" between the ad department and the city room (much as the wall of separation between church and state was eroded by similar forces). Bigger papers dropped bureaus; they all reduced the size of papers, both in physical dimensions and in the size of the news hole relative to ads. They were transformed by their new owners from the beacons of the peoples' interest into fucking suburban shoppers, with movie schedules, horoscopes, and celebrity gossip. People could get all that on-line, or off tv, and NOT have the distraction of having to actually READ anything.

That's what's happened to "the Press." It's gone and like so much else that is now gone, under the provisions of a spuriously inflamed anti-terrorism regime, like so much else we valued as our Constitutional birthrights, never to return.

Once lost, once forsaken, liberty is gone.

Never to return.


**SCUM = SoCalledUnbiasedMedia


PENolan said...

Woody, HMWb, TE -
So Called Unbiased Media = SCUM
Did you make that up?

My little brother, who has worked for one newspaper or another since about 1982, has many similar comments on this topic. Watching all your buddies get laid off and/or shut down makes a person grouchy.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

y-yup...mah very own!

Mr. Pelican said...

The "Press" was, and always has been, a business. Benjamin Franklin did not start his newspaper altruistically. At its zenith the press was an/the intellectual political power as well as being a business. But Intellectualism is passe, thanks to the Bush/Fox cabal which for 8 years has had the fun of writing the news.
Newspapers have always lived to sell themselves. Why are they on the ropes? Culpability for the death of institution known as "the watchdog press" must lie at the feet of the advertising departments. As the media giants strove to compete with each other they began sacrificing little bits and pieces of their sacred column space heretofore dedicated to "news". In Journalism classes, we were taught to write in the "Inverted Pyramid" style: The most important facts first, and details and support later. This has been trimmed, for ad space, to the written equivalent of the 30 second sound-bite.

Let's also point the finger at 24 hour newscasts. Face it, really, the news--REAL news--can usually be relayed in 30 minutes, not counting the sports & weather. ( I've always thought sports news could be best done by a ticker across the bottom of the screen, or better still just neglected completely) The 24 hour networks though, gotta fill that time between commercials with SOMETHING, so they hammered us with trivialized repetitions and marginalized perspectives of the events of the news, easily acquired, instead of the causes, old investigative reporting- not so easy to do, with a slow turn around time(Woodward & Bernstein worked on Watergate for years).

Last of all, we have to blame the American people who have fattened up, dumbed down, and made
themselves sleek and stupid on a diet of reality shows, sit-coms and infomercials: slick presentation vs. substance. Reading takes effort, and it's easy and tittalating to press a button and let some vapid craggy-faced actor or bimbo with big hair and boobs slang you with sensationalism.
Be alarmed, but not unduly, while you float away in your la-z-boy, in a stream of warm, comfortable garbage.