I remember as a boy when my father would come home from work, and he would turn on the nightly news.
Once a day he looked to get his dose of what was going on in the world in a 30-minute program dedicated to getting it right.
This was after having read through most of the newspaper that landed on our front stoop in the early hours of the morning each day.
I grew up during Watergate, a time when the impression of the US President, the most powerful man in the world, was being re-made.
Up until then, there was this unspoken code in the press. The President’s behavior was off-limits. Stick to the policy decisions, the domestic and foreign policy issues of the day. Get the facts and present them to the public at large, and let them make a decision.
You had the editorial page, where opinion was shared, and the idea of questioning all the facts played out. But we knew that’s what it represented, opinion, not fact.
But in general, back in those days, it was get your sources, check them many times over for credibility, get another source that confirmed the first source before you even thought about asking the managing editor to print or present the piece as news journalism.
I remember watching “All the Presidents Men” years after Watergate, interested in all that went down during that incredible period of American history.
The story, although for certain expressed in all of Hollywood’s expected perspective, was generally true to point. And the key item worth remembering is how much work Woodward and Bernstein had to do to check and re-check sources, and push sources so they could ultimately convince their editor to accept each story.
Their were many, many instances where, were it not for the perfect set of coincidences, much of what became of Richard Nixon may never have occurred, because these guys had to “know” they were right, not hope they were right. Or even worse, not care!
Ever since the advent of 24-hour news, we’ve been bombarded by news. And it seems like in an effort to fill the airwaves with something somehow worth watching, these channels have “created” news!
The emergence of the pundit, the expert, or the prognosticator is one of the most intriguing developments of the past twenty years of television.
Like the socialite’s self professed importance and created imagery, we are dazzled by their titles and expressions, yet somehow never quite clear what qualifies them to profess the truth?
Then the emergence of the “political network”!
What on god’s earth has happened to journalism?
The fourth estate, that was given free rain through the rights of the first amendment to speak freely had always held that right with respect, demanding within its own code that the truth would be told, and it would be checked many, many times before presented as truth or fact.
Now, its seems as though the fourth estate has given way to the fifth estate, the outlier grouping of viewpoints from contemporary society, and there is no security of truth in the press, just a lot of opinion and bias. How are we to “know” what is truly going on?
At one time, when I was a boy, media held a place in society as the check rain. They held the government and big business accountable. The threat of their exposure of the truth often “policed” the decision making of our leaders, or so it seemed.
Now, it just seems to take our leaders and bury them before they’ve even started. We are no longer seeing the best of the best become our political leaders because the cost of exposure in this crazy world of he said, she said, is just too great.
Worse yet, those who are great manipulators of the socialized information era are becoming the leaders and the thought deliverers. If you know how to use the internet, you can create your image and remake it many times over.
Unfortunately there does not seem to be a better proposition to come, only more and more confusion and discourse. We are all forced to choose sides, instead of listening, pondering, learning, and choosing the sane pathway. We grow more and more confused, less and less interested.
The advent of 24-hour news has cheated our opportunity to “know” what’s going on. All we can do now is hope we are right?!
Originally published at medium.com