That’s what I feel like shouting sometimes – “Stop The Presses!”
I want to say it when I see big stories omitted from coverage in the daily press.
I want to say it when I see stories distorted in the daily press.
And I want to say it when I see stories in the daily press that simply don’t belong there.
Maybe you wonder, “Who are you, Farah, to judge the press? Why are your opinions about the media any more valid than anyone else’s? What special qualifications do you have to judge highly trained reporters and editors working in the ‘mainstream press’?”
I’m glad you asked that question.
Let me introduce myself to those of you who know me only through my work of the last 10 years, directing the operations of the leading independent news source on the Internet.
Before I threw my lot in with the New Media in 1997, I had a distinguished career in what is still euphemistically called “the mainstream media.” Some prefer to call it the “lamestream media.” Others prefer “the downstream media.” I call it, more objectively, “the establishment media” – or, better yet, “the Old Media.”
In 25 years, I did just about everything one could do professionally in that world – from reporting on the front lines of war zones to directing newsroom operations to serving as editor in chief of daily newspapers in major markets.
So, I think it’s fair to say I bring a little experience to this process – and a little objectivity and perspective as well.
I’m one of only a handful of people left in America who has actually shouted “Stop The Presses!” in a daily newspaper office and meant it.
Do you remember the old TV show “Lou Grant,” starring Ed Asner? I actually helped coach the cast of that show on what it’s like to work in a real Los Angeles daily newspaper. In other words, you could say, in a sense, I was the real “Lou Grant.”
I loved newspapers. I loved my experience in radio and my more limited experience in television. I still love the experience I’m having yet in the ink and paper world of book publishing.
But it was the emergence of the Internet that facilitated a media revolution in the last decade. And that is the subject of my new book, “Stop The Presses!”
It’s the still-unfolding, 10-year-old story of a serious challenge to the multinational corporate media establishment.
My particular calling was unique – having spent so much time and experienced so much in the world of the Old Media.
I saw in this new medium the chance to reinvent the American news media, to reform it, to do the job right, to recapture the spirit and purpose and ideals of the free press, to utilize the new technology to reinvigorate and revitalize the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty, an exponent of truth and justice, an uncompromising disseminator of news.
In other words, we might get a chance to redefine the historic, unique and still-vital mission of the American press. I truly believed that then and believe it even more today.
What is the purpose of a free press in a free society? Had I asked that question of the grizzled, veteran newsmen I knew when I began my professional career in newspapers 30 years ago, I believe many of them could have answered the question correctly. And, yes, there is a correct answer. Just one.
The central role of a free press in a free society is to serve as a watchdog on government and other powerful institutions. It is to champion the little guy, the underdog – to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
That’s why the Founding Fathers of this great nation included in the First Amendment special protections for the free press. They understood the vital role the free flow of information plays in an open, self-governing society.
Somewhere along the way, the establishment press lost its vision, its focus, its way. It no longer comprehended its mission, let alone performed its duty.
As the nation grew and power became more concentrated in Washington, the free press acted less like a vigilant watchdog and more often like a lapdog of government. I saw this happen in my lifetime. I witnessed it close up and personal.
“Stop The Presses!” is my story. It’s a drama that is still playing out. But the handwriting is on the wall for the Old Media. The revolution is under way. It’s a development as big as the invention of the printing press was in Gutenberg’s day. It is a story that is impacting the lives of everyone around the world. It is shaking the very foundations of the power-hungry elitists who want to control the flow of information and thus control the people.