Real Talk About The Me­dia, Fake News

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - JUST THOUGHTS Bob Jones

I’ve never been much of a fan of Quill, the mag­a­zine of the So­ci­ety of Pro­fes­sional Jour­nal­ists. Too much about de­tails of per­form­ing t he craft and not enough about pub­lic per­cep­tion of t he cur­rent young, on-the-cheap re­porters do­ing the heavy lift­ing on news­pa­pers and TV.

But SPJ pres­i­dent Lynn Walsh nailed it this month. “The re­al­ity is some of us are out of touch. Not only are we out of touch, but we don’t even rec­og­nize we’re out of touch.”

Back when j our­nal­ists b r o u g h t d o wn Ri c h a r d Nixon with the Water­gate scan­dal, no­body claimed we were part of the Deep State and elites t ry­ing t o be­smirch t he hero of t he lit­tle peo­ple.

When Richard Dud­man of the St. Louis Post- Dis­patch made his f i r s t r eport­ing trip to Vietnam in 1962 and con­cluded be­fore any­one that the war was a doomed en­ter­prise, no­body yelled “me­dia doom­sayer.”

Lo­cally, we were he­roes at KGMB-TV when re­porter Bambi Weil un­cov­ered politi­cian Ran­dolph Crossl ey’s crooked deal­ings at his Pa­cific Sav­ings & Loan right af­ter he lost the gov­er­nor­ship to Ge­orge Ariyoshi by about 5,000 votes. No­body claimed we were in the pock­ets of Democrats.

I got Maj. Gen. Ed­win Walker fired in Ger­many in 1961 when I un­cov­ered his il­le­gal pro­mo­tion of GOP Congress can­di­dates to his 15,000 soldiers and only the ul­tra-right John Birch So­ci­ety thought I was a bad guy.

What’s hap­pened since, and why are we Fake News to many Amer­i­cans?

Mostly, it’s the in­ter­net. As soon as a main­stream re­porter files his print or TV story, blog sites are up say­ing, “That’s not true,” or worse, re­lat­ing un­true ma­te­rial to make the re­porter seem mis­taken or bi­ased.

But there are other things. Sur­veys i ndi­cate t hat a ma­jor­ity of main­stream jour­nal­ists are Demo­crat. I don’t dis­pute that. Most I’ve known are po­lit­i­cally pro­gres­sive by na­ture as the voice of the pow­er­less against the pow­er­ful. Not all, by any means, but most.

We’ve al s o l ost t ouch with our com­mu­ni­ties. We don’t go out and tell groups what we do, why and how. Cit­i­zens don’t per­son­ally know us. My com­mu­ni­ca­tions are by email. My read­ers may be scared to death to per­son­ally dis­agree with me. They f i gure I ’ m Mr. Big.

At KGMB, the late Bob Sevey and I used to go out and t alk t o groups about how news is gath­ered, and we han­dled some very tough ques­tions with very straight an­swers. We ac­knowl­edged our short­com­ings.

My book Re­porter ac­knowl­edges t he f ail­ures. The Honolulu Ad­ver­tiser ed­i­tor killed my story crit- i cal of t he state at­tor­ney gen­eral when that of­fi­cial was r e v i e wing the anti-com­pet­i­tive el­e­ments of a merger with the Star-Bul­letin. Sevey used to wince at sto­ries nail­ing busi­ness­men he drank with at the coun­try club and the Press Club.

Mainly, we’ve failed to ex­plain why even a some­times flawed but free press is crit­i­cal to a democ­racy.

We’re not try­ing to “bring down” gov­ern­ment. We’re try­ing to bring it up to your ex­pec­ta­tions.

This year, lo­cal jour­nal­ists’ “Grid­iron Show” rapidly sold out with the theme Real Fake News.

Pres­i­dent Trump has tapped into the me­dia fall­ing out of touch with their au­di­ence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.