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Journalism Is Dead

Dear Editor: 

As a young boy in the 1970s, I wanted to be a professional baseball player or an astronaut. They were my heroes. By the time college rolled around, I knew I wasn’t headed to the Mets or to NASA. My new goal was to become a journalist. 

The Fourth Estate played such a big and important role in America. Woodward and Bernstein had taken down President Nixon, not for political reasons, but because there was a truth to be told to the American people and they were willing to put their careers on the line to bring that truth to light. A generation before, Edward R. Murrow had stood up to McCarthy. In between, Walter Cronkite was considered a paragon of fairness. Truth and fairness are two pillars of journalism that have become corroded to the point of crumbling in the 21st century. 

Let’s face it, is there a single source of national news –be it a newspaper or a website– that you can trust to provide objective information? Very few organizations actually do any investigative work anymore; they regurgitate information from the wire services and generally add some spin to reflect their political prejudices. The Old Gray Lady has been a virtual wing of the Democratic Party for two decades. Over the last year, the Washington Post, another giant of 20th century journalism, has repeatedly led with politically charged stories that it later had to retract. More and more people are relying on alternate sources for news, like their Facebook feed. 

This isn’t just disappointing; it’s a crisis. It has long been held “an informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy.” That’s one reason a free press is protected in the First Amendment. When the media actively misinforms the public, they betray this once-sacred responsibility. 

Indeed, the national media does more than misinform. They pit us against each other. Depending on their bend, they cherry pick inflammatory “facts” and broadcast “debates” between people with partisan views. They poke at us, hoping to incite disagreements. Why? Because conflict = ratings. Broadcast news is getting to be like a “Real Housewives” show. 

A few years back, I started checking before buying into most news-related emails that were forwarded to me. Now I take the same attitude about the stories I get from so-called journalists. Please, don’t take anything the national media is selling at face value. Do the homework yourself before passing on propaganda. Don’t help them tear us apart.