Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Sad State of American Journalism

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
 NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell comes to Bears camp last August, and the Chicago Sun-Times does a two page spread on how the Bears players hate him and how they think he's a dictator.  The Chicago Tribune runs one short paragraph under "Bears Bits," which just says Goddell was present at the camp.  Nothing is said in the Tribune about the Bears players' opinions of Goodell.  Of course, the Tribune has become famous as an anti-labor newspaper.

The Tribune also runs a series of stories on the Illinois pension crisis, highlighting abuses of double dipping in the system.  The stories reek of bias against the pension systems.  After the series, the Tribune runs editorials demanding pension reform and calling for retired public employees to give up their cost of living adjustments or their medical insurance.  The Trib's editorial bias against pensions, teachers, and public education moved onto the front page into what should be non-biased news stories.

Channel 7's Mike Adamle
 Channel Five's Mike Adamle leads his nightly sportscast with the fact that the Cubs brought up two rookies for a Sunday game.  The first-place White Sox taking two of three from division leading Texas is relegated to the second slot. in the sports segment  The Cubs are in last place, 25 games under .500 at the time!

WGN Radio always leads its sportscasts off with a Cubs or Blackhawks story because both teams' radio broadcasts are on the station.

NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams
 NBC news anchor Brian Williams asked Texas Governor Rick Perry the following question during last September's Republican Presidential Debates:  "Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates more than any other governor in modern times. Have you struggled to sleep at night?"

Wow!  The journalism that Ray Vanderburg, Reef Waldrep, and some guy named Larry (I can't remember his last name, but he DID give me a "D" in Public Relations.) taught me at Western Illinois University seems to have gone by the wayside.  There is no attempt to judge stories for news value any longer.  The Cubs get the top slot because WGN carries the games, no matter what the White Sox or Bears do.  The Tribune is anti-union so the heck with what the Bears players say about Roger Goodell.

Brian Williams makes no effort to be non-biased in his questioning of Rick Perry.  Williams lets it be known that he is against capital punishment, and damn it, Perry better be against it too.  Did we ever know the politics of Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, or Howard K. Smith when they were on the air?

I don't think I did! 

And now every night when I see Williams sitting behind the same anchor desk where Tom Brokaw used to sit, I wonder if the news that night will be filtered through Williams' liberal bias.
Fox News' Roger Ailes

Fox News is worse.  Under one time Republican campaign manager Roger Ailes, Fox makes a habit of airing the conservative side of each issue and leaving the other side unspoken.  Sean Hannity's interview of George Zimmerman, who is accused of killing Black teenager Travon Martin in Florida told America where Fox News stood.   Hannity kissed Zimmerman's butt for the entire interview.

Voters have a harder time making up their minds who to vote for because the media outlets that should be weighing candidates' positions on key issues are too busy spinning the news to promote the candidates of their choice.

Larry King
 Media experts used to complain about Larry King's show on CNN and claim that King just lobbed softball questions at his guests.  But I always found King to be thorough and probing.  He wasn't looking for a "gotcha moment."  King was looking to have his guests comment on the key issues of the day, and no one ever knew where King stood politically.  When I watch Hannity doing an interview on Fox News or Lawrence O'Donnell interviewing a public figure on MSNBC, I have to sift through the bias in order to get to the real story.  And sometimes the real story never emerges.

Our local radio station, WSPY-FM in Plano, sent its news director, Ryan Morton, to the Republican National Convention last summer.  For the entire week, Morton sent back puff piece interviews of local Kendall County Republicans giving their take on the convention.  When I sent Morton a message on Facebook telling him how I was looking forward to his coverage of the Democratic Convention the next week, he sent me a message back telling me he wasn't going to Charlotte.

I told him that WSPY's news coverage was the best argument I'd seen for the reinstatement of the equal time rule which used to force radio and television stations to air opposing views. I never thought I'd want the equal time rule back (It was a pain in the rear dealing with it), but after listening to Morton, Williams, Hannity, and O'Donnell, I'm not so sure any more.

The station I used to work for in Galesburg, WGIL-AM, runs Glenn Beck in the morning, Rush Limbaugh in the afternoon, and Dennis Miller at night--all conservative commentators.  And now WGIL owner John Pritchard is running for mayor of Galesburg.  I guess we know where he stands politically!

Will journalism in America ever return to its glory days?  Could there be a Woodward and Berstein today? 

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind!


  1. Very good piece Mr.Wyman, I was just talking about this to my younger brother earlier this week. I was watching TV in my living room and he was wondering why I was switching the channels back and forth to what he called "news channels". I told him because it's important to be able to understand both sides of a particular issue and try to get the facts. As I switched back in forth from Sean Hannity (the devil re-incarnated, sorry) and Rachel Maddow...he asked "Isn't it just news?" "And aren't they supposed to give you just facts anyway?" And that's when I realized that this was a big issue. It seems as if though students like my brother will never be able to pick up a newspaper, watch a news broadcast, or listen to a radio show without having to weed out all the biased opinions. My fear is that they will not be intellectually capable of doing this because many schools fail to teach them this skill. It wasn't until my freshman year of college under the liberating instruction of Mr.Wyman (If I may say so)that I was able to truly see both sides of an argument, especially when it came to politics. I think it is unfair that we can no longer have decent, non biased, fact based news and I think it is wrong to deprive the younger generation of decent journalism. The media will very soon become responsible for creating an entire generation of extremists. It is not right and it has to definitely be stopped.

    1. Also if I may add when I said schools fail to teach students this skill I in no way meant to imply that teachers are not servicing their students. The recent CPS strike has brought very negative ill feelings about the teachers. As a product of CPS I can tell you that all those critics think they know, but they have no idea! That is all i have to say about that....before I go on a rant!

  2. Hmmm I still remember Walter Cronkite saying "the VietNam war is unwinable" back in 1968. That took some brads! I often wonder if his bosses knew he was going to say that. Todays news guys are mouth pieces for whatever view they (the bosses) have of world order.

    Please tell me you don't listen to WGIL-AM talk radio (Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Dennis Miller) crap.

  3. Jamie,
    You're right about Cronkite, Jamie, but this was the "exception" in 1968 rather than "the rule."
    No, I never listen to Beck, Limbaugh, or Miller, but the majority of radio stations are owned by their supporters. There is no way the middle class should even consider voting for Romney, but the lies that these three schmoes send out every day works. If you tell a lie long enough, people believe it.