Thursday, March 19, 2009

The unexamined media is not worth having

Lawrence Martin deserves some props for the introspection he displays in his article today (To save journalism, bring on that Jon Stewart outrageon the state of the media.  As is so often typed, "Go Read The Whole Thing.  Higlights are given below.

Has Big Media ever had it so bad? 

Journalism, chiefly south of the border, didn't put up much of a challenge to the moneyed men before they climbed aboard their golden runaway trains - just like it didn't put up much of a challenge to the pap trotted out to justify the Iraq war.

So, while the fourth estate is in dire straits, sympathy isn't exactly washing over the walls. Nor should it be. Journalism got corporate and soft. If, in the post-Watergate era, it leaned too much to the anti-establishment side, abetting welfare-state excesses, it has now been much the opposite, abetting easy routes to war and market chaos.

As media ownership became concentrated in the hands of a few corporate giants, journalists too often came to reflect the ethos of those corporate giants. Counterculture voices of the left, traditional sources of opposition to corporate rule and war, were marginalized.


Canadian journalism moved to the right of the population. ... We could be at the tipping point wherein a counterculture wave rolls in. More courage and daring and Jon Stewart-type outrage is in order - new rogues of journalism to set us straight. From those corporate owners who sought to impose their bias, the media need regain its independence.

Canadian journalism hasn't been caught off guard to the American degree. But ... our journalistic voices were tame in charting his folly. Those who tried to hit hard had to listen to sophomoric garbage about being "anti-American." Of course, telling the truth about the Bush administration was about the most pro-American thing anyone could do.


the resolve to stand up to vested interests isn't what it should be. There needs to be more independence and a hardening of the challenge function. We buckle too easily. When the Governor-General made her decision to sustain the Conservative government in office, she gave no explanation. Instead of demanding one, our media folded like deck chairs.

There's a dismaying conformity to our journalism, and little thinking outside the box. 

As for television's conformity, we all know about that - those news delivery panels of chuckleheads who kibitz with one another instead of just telling the story.

The times are hard for the media. The shakedown is coming. Let it bring with it a new spirit - a journalism that is tougher, less knee-jerk, less beholden to elites, more beholden to the truth.

Let us give Mr. Martin his due.  Fine words that are better late than never.  The test, of course, is to see if he follows through.

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