November 9, 2012

Is Journalism F****d Up?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:48 pm

Mickey Huff

In a country known around the world for its free press, the people who most need to know about Project Censored, which annually publishes a collection of the top 25 examples of important news stories that have been suppressed in the USA, and would derive the most benefit from reading the new 2012 collection, are the least likely to buy this year’s edition.

Liberals who know that Freedom of the Press is on “death watch” status will buy the new collection of hushed up news and not be able to get closed minded conservatives to flip through it let alone read it cover to cover.

America’s Freedom of the Press has always been revered because of its role as “the watchdog of Democracy” but in the past 25 years Project Censored has been carving out its niche in pop culture by proclaiming itself to be the watchdog’s watchdog.

The fact that the newest installment in the annual publication series features a photo of an event at University of California’s campus at Davis, which was seen around the world the day it happened, might seem to contradict the Project Censored mission statement but this year a different approach has been implemented. The mace in the face for the students was very well reported but the underlying hidden trend spotting story has not.

The 2012 book lists the emergence of a Police State, which is exemplified by the photos showing the “pepper stray” attack, as being one of 2012’s most under reported stories. It is the centerpiece for a collection of events which leads readers to the conclusion that American locations provide the dateline for a long list of “Police State” activities and thus the Police State assertion falls into the “if it quacks like a duck” category for examples of deductive reasoning.

Moe’s Bookstore in Berkeley presented a publication and author signing event on Saturday November 3, 2012. The World’s Laziest Journalist didn’t want to run a Presidential Election Analysis column that might get lost in the sandstorm of unique and perceptive analysis that was sure to become available at the conclusion of election week, so we decided to write about the new example of Project Censored in action.

We picked up some good column items such as: the Project Censorship team can be heard in the Berkeley CA area on KPFA FM radio on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 9 and is available online.

We paid particular attention to the speaker who outlined how to submit suggestions to Project Censored because one of the stories that we would suggest to their tip editor for next year is that in addition to suppressing stories, Journalism in America is also suffering a “death of a thousand cuts” style loss of quality reporting by switching to an emphasis of work by “citizen journalists” as a cost cutting measure.

Like it or not, when one person makes all the editorial decisions there will be a detrimental increase in arbitrary and capricious factors which can only diminish the true journalism quality rating for the finished project. The use of work contributed by citizen journalists must, inevitably, lead to a reduction in the quality level of content.

Since it seems very unlikely that hard working content providers would own up to providing content that would make a professor of journalism barf, perhaps we should begin gathering material via the Gonzo Journalism method for such an expose? We could provide some columns in the Q & D (Quick and Dirty) style and then point out in the piece for use in a future installment of the Project Censored series, just what we got away with. (Such as using a preposition at the end of a sentence?)

Here’s another example of how the amateurs do sloppy work theory works: If a newspaper were to assign a staff writer the task of reviewing the Project Censored 2012 edition, they would give him/her a copy of the book and expect the reviewer to read it before writing pronouncements describing what it is about.

Keen makes the assertion that online content providers often cut and paste material found online for their story and think it is a marvelous example of journalism. Rather than reading the new book, we will paste a list of this year’s chapters:
• 1. Signs of an Emerging Police State
• 2. Oceans in Peril
• 3. Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Worse than Anticipated
• 4. FBI Agents Responsible for Majority of Terrorist Plots in the United States
• 5. First Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Trillions Loaned to Major Banks
• 6. Small Network of Corporations Run the Global Economy
• 7. 2012: The International Year of Cooperatives
• 8. NATO War Crimes in Libya
• 9. Prison Slavery in Today’s USA
• 10. HR 347 Would Make Many Forms of Nonviolent Protest Illegal
• 11. Members of Congress Grow Wealthier Despite Recession
• 12. US Joins Forces with al-Qaeda in Syria
• 13. Education “Reform” a Trojan Horse for Privatization
• 14. Who Are the Top 1 Percent and How Do They Earn a Living?
• 15. Dangers of Everyday Technology
• 16. Sexual Violence against Women Soldiers on the Rise and under Wraps
• 17. Students Crushed By One Trillion Dollars in Student Loans
• 18. Palestinian Women Prisoners Shackled during Childbirth
• 19. New York Police Plant Drugs on Innocent People to Meet Arrest Quotas
• 20. Stealing from Public Education to Feed the Prison-Industrial Complex
• 21. Conservatives Attack US Post Office to Break the Union and Privatize Postal Services
• 22. Wachovia Bank Laundered Money for Latin American Drug Cartels
• 23. US Covers up Afghan Massacre
• 24. Alabama Farmers Look to Replace Migrants with Prisoners
• 25. Evidence Points to Guantánamo Dryboarding

The alternative method of doing the html work to present an active link which would take readers to the list
requires more time and effort and may take readers away from the site where they are reading the “review” of this year’s installment in the series of books, so the cut and paste method does have some advantages.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has, in the past (see review of “Smoking Typewriters” by John McMillian) bought a copy of a new book to be able to write a column about a book he intended to read. However when it came time to spend $20 for a book that we couldn’t possibly finish reading by the time our self set deadline for this particular column had arrived, let alone read it and then get the column written on time; we balked at the prospect of the expenditure of personal funds and rationalized the shoddy short cut. That would be an example of how Gonzo style provides the writer with an example of substandard shortcuts for a hypothetical expose proving Andrew Keen’s contention.

Since one of the columnists personal crusades is helping the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association in their decades old efforts to draw attention to the cozy relationship between members of the Los Angles County Board of Supervisors and the real estate developers who make magnanimous campaign contributions to the various board members reelection campaigns, we suggested that the Project Censored staff might be intrigued by the current plight of the Los Angles County Assessor who has been jailed and is having trouble raising funds for his bail.

That particular news tip may be for a story that doesn’t have obvious national relevancy, but perhaps they can use that as an example in a new trend spotting story.

You want another illustration of an arbitrary and capricious editorial decision? We don’t know exactly what connection the Red Bull glider competition will have to political analysis but since it is something we want to see and photograph, we intend on going to the event at McCovey Cove in San Francisco on Saturday November 10, 2012 and then write the next installment of our column about precisely that event.

Perhaps images of folks shoving bulky creations off the edge of a precipice and watching to see if it floats in the air like a butterfly or if it immediately sinks down to the water, will be handy to have as illustrations for a column about the perils of the “fiscal cliff” that is looming on America’s political horizon.

Since we had stumbled across a copy of Andrew Keen’s book, “The Cult of the Amateur” before attending the event for Project Censored at Moe’s Books, the thought that we might need a copy of that particular book, after suggesting a story about “citizen journalists” exacerbating Journalism’s death of a thousand cuts, caused us to go back to the Thrift Store on University Ave., where we had seen it, and buy it . . . just in case. We were able to rationalize the bargain price for the purchase.

In fact checking the Red Bull event we learned that this Saturday is being reported online as being Free Admission at National Parks Day. Heck even staunch conservatives who are muttering derisive remarks at their computer screen as they read this column, might (as good red blooded American patriots) want to know that!

Did any of the American media note that Tuesday was Melbourne Cup day down where summer is just a few days away?

While we were reading the Berkeley Public Library’s latest edition of Muy Interesante magazine, we came up with an item for our Stupid Fun on the Internets Department. Do an Google image search for “tadas cerniauskas.”

Speaking of low budget = no budget; when we went to the event at Moe’s we took one photo of Mickey Huff before the rechargeable batteries conked out on us, so the Photo editor had relatively little work to do this week.

In “the cult of the amateur,” Andrew Keen (on page 27) wrote: “Every defunct record label, or laid-off newspaper reporter, or bankrupt independent bookstore is a consequence of ‘free’ user-generated Internet content – from Craigslist’s free advertising, to YouTube’s free music videos, to Wikipedia’s free information.”

Now, the disk jockey will play “Lady Godiva,” and the Rolling Stones songs “Star f****r,” and “C********r Blues.” We have to go look for the definition of unexpurgated. Have a “Banned in Boston” type of week.

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