These are hard times to call yourself a journalist.
The digital revolution continues to make newspapers resemble endangered factories from the last economic generation. The media industry still can’t wrap its arms around the confounding reality that a bunch of brilliant engineers in Silicon Valley have created. As the movie title goes, Reality Bites.
Meanwhile, our smiling, dashing POTUS, boasting enviable approval ratings in his lame-duck term, can have it both ways. One day, he’s yukking it up at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner and the next, he seems determined to drive the media into a crouch. He has taken on news companies as different as the Associated Press and the Fox News Channel, in an unmistakable effort to show the media who’s the boss.
CNN and others messed up the Boston Marathon bombing story to an embarrassing degree. Wolf Blitzer’s ridiculous question about God during the Oklahoma tornado tragedy will go down in the YouTube Hall of Blunders. Like I said, it has been a rough period.
So what? Do you feel sorry for us in the beleaguered fourth estate? Probably not. Who’s kidding who.
Journalists have always bitched that they’re underpaid and under loved. It’s true, but again, the key question — so what? Anyone who ever watched Lou Grant on TV — the ultimate newsroom show — must’ve figured that a reporter’s strongest job quality was an ability to drink a lot of coffee with going to the bathroom and cracking one-liners.
The American public doesn’t care abut our problems. And it shouldn’t. All they want is for us to show common sense and deliver the breaking news everyday in an accurate, fair-minded way — and we have trouble performing those fundamental tasks. We keep getting stories wrong and displaying an elitist slant, to boot.
Journalists have begun to compare President Obama’s media treatment with that of Richard Nixon, who arguably hated the media more than any human being who has ever lived. That’s serious stuff for Obama. But so far, as long as he can create some jobs and keep the stock market fat, the people will show support for his policies.
If he has to drag down the media industry, that’s OK with them.
But the President also has to answer for the Benghazi hearings and the mortifying Internal Revenue Service scandal. He should remember that journalists always get the last word. Always.