What happened to our watchdog media?

I went to college like a million years ago when “computer” evoked thoughts of punch cards, smoking was tolerated and the Halloween street parties were spontaneous. We could have sex and drink beer at age 18. And so we did.

watchdog media madmikesamerica

In that post-Watergate era, journalists were heroes. Feisty investigative reporters were exposing corruption and protecting the American public from society’s meanies.

‘Lou Grant‘ will save us all, or so we thought.

It is with that romantic notion that I decided to major in Journalism. Not very practical, but exciting. Gloria Steinem often visited the Ohio U. campus…maybe she’d give me a job. And there will always be newspapers…um, right?

Today, much of what I read online and see on TV isn’t what we J-school old-schoolers would consider proper journalism (and that includes this little essay). Broadcasting the Casey Anthony trial 24/7 takes little reporting skill.  “Advocacy journalism” of the Fox News variety is just a euphemism for opinionated, fact-baseless content.

In the new journalism era, Fox host Bill O’Reilly can badger late-term abortion doctor “Tiller the babykiller” 29 times on national television and then brush off any suggestion that he created an atmosphere of hatred when Dr. Tiller is gunned down in church (Assassin Scott Roeder is serving a life term in prison for the crime, but Dr Tiller’s Wichita clinic was shut down. That’s right — the terrorist won.)

But, hey, free speech. Whatever.

I mention my OU days — Fox News President Roger Ailes being a fellow alum — because I was recently reminded of a journalism term I learned in college: “afghanistaning.”

In the ‘70s, afghanistaning meant writing about events and people no one cared about. Filler news about far-off places. You know, boring stuff.

Last Sunday in between Cialis and Celebrex commercials on the evening news, reputable  news organizations noted the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. CBS reported:

“After the withdrawal in September, America will still have almost 70,000 troops here. So far the war has claimed 1,800 American lives and cost half a trillion dollars — it runs about two billion dollars a week. Still, Ambassador Crocker told us there will be no rush to the exits.”

Sigh. Evidently, we so-called journalists have been advocating for all the wrong things.

Hey, who got eliminated from Dancing with the Stars?

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Posted by on October 20, 2011. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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2 Responses to What happened to our watchdog media?

  1. liz

    October 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Web articles from CBS News, HuffPo and Feministe.us blog were used as sources for this essay.

    • the neighbor

      October 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      Isn’t that what the links are for? Good story and always looked forward to The Mary Tyler Moore show. Those days are sure gone, in many respects. I miss them.