Is it time to stick a fork in “old-school” journalism? Is it done? Finished? Kaput? Has the time when the news media is wise and savvy enough not to become “the story” itself become ancient, like a prehistoric dinosaur? Have we returned to the days of “yellow journalism” forever?
I would certainly hope not. It was a shameful time in our nation’s history, not a glorious one. It was a time when truth and facts were thrown out the window, with those who consumed the sensationalism more hungrily arguing that such things as “truth” and “facts” don’t REALLY exist anyway — they’re a figment of the imagination. They’d rather rely on their own “feelings” about what’s presented to them as truth instead of relying on what they believe are mythical “facts.”
Once that happens, those people have bought into the propaganda machine that is one of the most dangerous weapons known to mankind. It’s the kind of thing that has literally wasted millions of human lives, whether it’s Hitler’s extermination of millions of Jews, or the wholesale slaughters in Rwanda in most recent history. This is not an exaggeration. This is, like it or not, the truth. These are, like it or not, the facts. Although there are still those out there (an Illinois man running for public office today among them, who really doesn’t deserve the attention by sharing his name here) who continue to deny that the Holocaust even happened.
That’s propaganda all by itself. Yes, it still exists. And we have people like the late conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart to thank for that.
Breitbart was a master of modern “yellow journalism.” What exactly was “yellow journalism?” Click on the link just below for a bit of Wikipedia research:
It’s been a few days now since Andrew Breitbart died suddenly at the relatively young age of 43. I’ve spoken out against his methods and practices as a “journalist” here before. That’s one of the reasons my blog started humming the day he died, with several blogs all referring to articles that I had published on him in recent weeks.
I showed Mr. Breitbart and his family some respect on the day he died, mostly because, yes, it seemed like the proper and decent thing to do, and I’d hoped that society could reflect on his passing and learn from it. But, apparently, I was wrong in thinking that could happen. After all, in many places among the conservative media in the time since Breitbart’s death, I’ve seen more than a few pieces and comments written about how Breitbart was in possession of some bit of video that would take down the Obama presidency, so Breitbart’s death HAD to be a “hit job.”
That’s the kind of paranoid dung heap Andrew Breitbart created in his “career” that paid him handsomely and has left his family with a lifetime’s worth of a secure future.
I’ve paid my respects to Andrew Breitbart and his family upon the news of his passing. I’m afraid that period of respect is now past for me. It’s more than I can say that Mr. Breitbart ever showed for anyone he happened to disagree with, which shows just how much of a scumbag he really was. Need proof? See the link below, AND LET ME WARN YOU — IT IS NOT FOR A PG-RATED AUDIENCE, NOR FOR A PG-13 AUDIENCE EITHER:
People who appreciated Breitbart’s “work” would say that I am “dancing on the grave” of Andrew Breitbart. Instead, the grave that I feel I’m dancing upon is the grave of good, honest, ethical journalism. And it’s people like Mr. Breitbart who summarily killed that once-proud institution.
Why do I think that? Click below to read one man’s opinion, as shared on CNN.com, about “how Andrew Breitbart changed the news:”
Are true journalists here to report on the news (yes, including solid investigative work in which multiple details and sources are checked and re-checked, again and again, until information is confirmed)? Or are true journalists here to change the news? There’s something for you to decide.
I’ll practice a bit of Breitbart-style writing here, which I really hate to do, and do a bit of speculating: Despite what the conservative conspiracy theorists would have us believe, Andrew Breitbart did not die because of some sinister plot because he was about to expose some evil-doing by Barack Obama. Instead, Andrew Breitbart died because he was overweight, hypertensive, his diet sucked, and he couldn’t stop going “over the top,” so his heart failed him suddenly. It happens, especially to people like Andrew Breitbart, even at the tender age of 43.
He was a heart attack waiting to happen. That’s the price he paid for his lifestyle. That’s the price he paid for his National Enquirer-type “career.” And his fans kept on encouraging him. That’s what made him a very wealthy man, and left his survivors secure for the rest of their lives.
At least there’s that benefit to come out of it. His survivors should want for nothing, for the remainder of their lives.
No, I’m not dancing on Andrew Breitbart’s grave, though I will always despise the man and everything that he stood for. He cared nothing for his country or for (as Sarah Palin said in her Facebook note the day he died) “defending the defenseless.” The video that is shown below that I shared in a recent blog post does not show me a man who was “defending the defenseless.”
Like I said, he was a heart attack waiting to happen. An Obama conspiracy? I don’t think so. And if Breitbart was a “journalist,” would what he was doing in that video be considered an “editorial comment?”
He found a niche, a way to capitalize on his audience. His family will go on with their lives, and they will live comfortably with that.
If Breitbart was a vision of the present and the future of journalism, I am in mourning. Why? Because from 1977 to 1993, starting at the age of 16 as a senior in high school, I earned a paycheck as a journalist. Why? In large part, because it came naturally, and I always thought of it — in the tradition of numerous print and broadcast journalists who “did it the right way” — as a very honest and noble profession. I started out as a sports stringer at one of the larger Idaho daily newspapers, and finished as a managing editor at a medium-sized Idaho daily.
In those 16 years, I did it all: Classified ads, photography, darkroom work, sports writing, taking and making perhaps hundreds of thousands of phone calls and taking notes on the fly while doing it, countless interviews with everyone from politicians to murder victims’ family members to murder suspects’ family members (or at least attempting to, more often being told then to “Get the f&*$ off this property, NOW!“) to American war veterans to … well, you name it, true investigative reporting while relentlessly confirming information given to me (“All The President’s Men” is perhaps my all-time favorite movie), putting up with countless abuse and insults in person and on the phone, recipe writing, babysitting the publishers’ kids, straight news reporting, sitting in countless meetings, sitting on the sidelines covering games, getting taken out at the knees on the sidelines while shooting photos at a football game, farm news, editorial writing, editorial column writing, “counting headlines (ask me or some of the other older journalists from before the era of pagination what that’s about, and I still do it in my head to this day),” laying out pages, catching papers as they came off the press, delivering the papers, putting my camera aside instead of taking photographs while chasing an ambulance and ending up helping to save one of four lives when EMTs were drastically undermanned at a car accident scene (ask some of the older members of the Blackfoot, Idaho, Fire Department about that — I earned their respect permanently that day), seeing young people lying on the ground dead because of an electrocution accident, seeing old people dying in front of my eyes while they’re literally puking out their stomachs, seeing brain tissue splattered all over a back alley and one-fourth of a man’s head blown away while his still-opened eyes told me the story of his final act of utter despair after a gruesome shotgun suicide, covering countless trials, witnessing a police standoff that ended in a suicide, supervising an editorial staff, witnessing the slow death of editorial department control over news content and the slow rise of advertising department control over news content … and I could go on.
Why did I do it? Because I loved it. It provided a constant adrenaline rush. No two days were exactly alike.
I may not have broken the Watergate story or anything like it, but I did my share of hard-hitting stuff (maybe the Idaho Department of Fish & Game has forgotten by now about a little “spat” one of their high-ranking people in Pocatello once had with me back in the early ’90s in an effort I was making to get at some facts, just as one example) that was truly fair, balanced, accurate, and unbiased. For a long time, this is pretty much what my life was like. And I loved it.
That’s not the kind of “journalism” that Andrew Breitbart practiced. But Breitbart’s “journalistic style” is what we’re seeing more of today. I suppose we as an audience are getting what we choose, and that’s sad. That’s what I’m mourning, certainly not the death of Andrew Breitbart. All he did was give the public what it wanted. And, much like the Hearsts of the “yellow journalistic past,” he became a very wealthy man because of it.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer a challenge to any news media outlet — whether it’s print or web-based or television or radio — that cares to take me up on a unique offer, and I’d start with Fox News. I will hereby offer my services as an “old-school media consultant.” I will spend time at any media outlet that would like one of those “old-school journalists” to come in and remind them of how it was really done, way back when.
I’m offering — at their expense, of course, since I am still technically unemployed — to travel anywhere and spend some time observing the operations of ANY media outlet, and give them an honest, totally unbiased analysis of their business practices. Are their reporters “slanting” stories? I’d say if they were, and I’d let them know if they weren’t. And I’d be honest. That’s how I was trained … as a journalist. And I would give my report here, in this blog.
Who’s up to the challenge? Fox News? The Drudge Report? Breitbart.com? ABC? NBC? CBS? MSNBC? Huffington Post? Excellence In Broadcasting network (home of another “troubled soul” in Rush Limbaugh). Glenn Beck TV? Smaller outlets? Who’s up to the challenge? Bring it on! Just see if you can find it in your pocketbooks to allow my lovely wife to come along for the ride with me, will ya? She’s earned it through the years.
For that matter, I’ll offer my consulting services to any conservative blog out there that wants to look a bit more attractive style-wise. I swear, conservative blogs (cough-gunny-blogger-dude-cough) and websites have some of THE UGLIEST, MOST CONFUSING, LEAST USER-FRIENDLY designs I’ve seen anywhere, and I’ve seen a few. I could whip that piece of garbage The Drudge Report into more attractive and less-cheap style in no time at all! Try me on for size! And who says I’m telling the conservatives to “shut up” (as I’ve been accused of numerous times). HELL, I’M OFFERING THEM MY SERVICES!! As long as they’re willing to pay, that is. Most of them can afford my services, I know many of them rake in the Koch Brother bucks.
And don’t think I’m not serious. I am.
That’s more than I can say for “journalists” like Andrew Breitbart.
And why am I doing this? A couple of reasons, actually: 1) I need some income, and 2) the American public deserves to stop living in a “life of illusion” similar to the kind that Andrew Breitbart portrayed.
Simple as that.
Media outlets, you can contact me in my Comments section below. I look forward to hearing from y’all.
How’s that for “changing the news?”
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media