I don’t like to spend time criticizing my colleagues.
I prefer using my news agency to do the job they fail to do.
But sometimes, their failings are so mindboggling, I just can’t help but point it out.
Such is the case with this past weekend’s tea party coverage.
First of all, it isn’t often that hundreds of thousands of ordinary, hardworking Americans put aside their holiday plans to spend a few precious downtime hours grilling hamburgers with family members and friends to get out into the streets to protest the actions of their federal government.
In fact, I can’t think of one other instance in my lifetime.
So the Independence Day tea party was an extraordinary event to begin with. Everyone knew there would be about 2,000 rallies around the country – that we could count. There were probably far more. Everyone knew that these demonstrations would attract between 50 people at the low end and 5,000 to 10,000 at the high end. The times were set. The date was set – a predictably slow news day on a holiday weekend.
Yet, to my utter amazement, having been in the news business for more than 30 years, not one news organization – broadcast, print or Internet – bothered to put together what we call a “roundup” of these local stories to give the events some national context.
Not even the Associated Press, the largest news-gathering organization in the world, one paid specifically by newspapers to perform this function, given that it is a non-profit cooperative of the newspaper industry and therefore having rights to all the copy produced by its members, bothered to put together a roundup story – even as late as 24 hours after all the tea parties were finished.
Twenty years ago, 10 years ago, I would have fired staffers for such lapses. But I suspect the lapses this time were not by one guy asleep at the switch at the AP. I suspect this is a striking example of the contempt most news people have for the mainstream American values represented by the tea partiers.
Most news organizations are lightly staffed on holiday weekends. WND is no exception. Nevertheless, even with a skeletal crew and the tools of the Internet, it was like shooting fish in a barrel to collect the information to give it some scope.
I do not exaggerate when I say, proudly, WND’s coverage of the tea parties this past weekend was deeper and more comprehensive than the rest of the establishment, corporate press combined.
It wasn’t even difficult beating them – because they were clearly not trying.
If the euphemistically named “mainstream” press cared to present a sweeping overview of what happened on Independence Day in America, it would have been easy to do – no more than a few hours of work for one enterprising reporter. The fact that AP didn’t do it, CNN didn’t do it, Fox News didn’t do it and nobody else with their resources did it demonstrates their disdain for the hundreds of thousands who participated and millions more they represent.
I’m sure this sounds very self-serving. But since no one else is likely to point out this total abdication of responsibility by every other news organization – big or small – it falls to me.
Maybe my colleagues have just forgotten how to report – how to do their jobs. Maybe they’ve just become incredibly lazy. I guess these are possibilities. But I don’t believe it for a minute. I am more convinced than ever that 99 percent of journalists in what Rush Limbaugh has coined the “state-run media” are indeed serving their masters.
More likely they have forgotten what their job is – to serve as a watchdog on government and other powerful institutions.
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