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July 23rd, 2009

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12:00 pm - Musings on Journalism and Journalists
A Time magazine national poll asks Now that Walter Cronkite has passed on, who is America's most trusted newscaster?. While I definitely enjoy watching Jon Stewart, his winning is both bizarre and a bit sad. It's good in that I'd vastly rather most Americans trusted him rather than soon wingnut on Fox News, but I also remember my childhood during that Watergate years. While what I most vividly remember about that time is being annoyed that the Watergate hearings pre-empting Doctor Who and The Avengers, I also remember growing up with a generalized respect for journalists that was part of a larger cultural respect for them. I remember Walter Cronkite reporting on events both amazing and horrific, I remember Woodward and Bernstein uncovering the Watergate scandal, and I remember seeing videos of old news reports by the likes of Edward R. Murrow and Eric Sevareid. I also still vividly remember watching Eric Sevareid's 1977 retirement address on CBS news, where he eloquently states what journalism should be.

All this changed in the 80s, I watched images of journalists change in movies and TV series change from heroic crusaders to greedy and malicious muck rackers - I'm fairly certain that at least some of this change was a deliberate effort by the right wing to attempt to reduce the power of future journalists who might attempt to reveal future Watergates. However, the 1980s was also the time of the rise of the national media empires, until only a handful of CEOs controlled almost all news media in the US. Now, all too often professional journalists are either mindless news readers, partisan hacks, or at best, out of touch anachronisms whose efforts are less powerful and less informative than various first hand accounts and news blogs so easily findable on the internet. So, perhaps Jon Stewart is the appropriate choice for most trusted journalist in the US. However, this remains to me both surreal and a bit sad.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
People recognize that the news is fake, so they only trust the guy who admits he’s producing fake news (and telling a fair bit of truth just so he can poke fun at it).
[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)

Other than it being right wing per se, I agree with you.

But then that's because I think it is more "people what want secrets to stay secrets" than "right wing people what want secrets to stay secrets". Even though I am as left as they come, I'm afraid that the right wing doesn't have the monopoly on scoundrels.
[User Picture]
Date:July 24th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
The choice of words is interesting to me: America's most trusted newcaster, not journalist. Frankly, with a slight asterisk for Stewart, I don't think there are any "newscasters" that I think of as trustworthy, and I barely think of them as journalists. Journalists discover things. Bad journalists, most of the ones we've got now, rewrite press releases, and newscasters read things that other people have discovered. If I were going to talk about journalists that I think of as trustworthy, Robert Fisk would probably top the list, followed by Sam Husseini, Nir Rosen, Matt Taibbi, and Greg Palast.

So yes, surreal and sad.

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