From an OpEd on Journalism, Kool- Aide and Missing Integrity

(by James Baar - Providence Journal)


Journalism today is the Sickman of America.

Its integrity is in shreds. Restitution of its integrity is one the nation’s most urgent challenges.

We are exposed to and infected daily with poisonous journalistic fake news Kool- Aide.

Five factors drive the problem:

• The social disease political correctness prevents calling troublesome things, dangerous things, bad things, evil things by their proper names to such an extent that they cannot be dealt with as in the past.

• The engulfing spread of spinspeak everywhere walls off any accurate perception of the real world and rots rational thinking as words increasingly have no real meaning.

• The pathology of self-deception among both leaders and their followers fully convinces them that the PC-spin they speak and hear is sacrosanct gospel.

• The dominance in American educated classes of the very human desire to feed superiority and assuage guilt by bleeding publicly for “the less fortunate” as long as they do not inconvenience one too much.

• The increasing erosion of American journalism’s stringent editorial and reportorial disciplines that in the past instantly recognized most baloney but now devours it with great relish.
To cure the problem is a revolution is required in management thinking about the media business where the urgent needs of a technologically changing delivery system corrupt and starve its golden goose – reliably reporting news generated by the famous five Ws

As Rudyard Kipling, poet and inky-fingered newspaperman, wrote:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.


It was this cognitive rule that enabled Kipling to describe accurately the real world with such lines as:

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot.


From the Forward to But Wait! There’s More! (maybe)


In the twentieth century, the advertising business played a seminal role in helping to build the American economic Goliath.

In the twenty-first century, the advertising business has been driven to the ropes by four devastating factors: A media and technological revolution, normal greed, executive hubris, and enormous ego.

The smug are always surprised on the day of reckoning, but this crisis in this highly significant $500 billion business didn’t just wander unheralded into the plush tower suites of the mega-agencies.

The crisis began to form when the advertising business was still run from studios crowded with creative artists and writers, gathered strength in the acquisition pig-out of the ’80s and ’90s, and struck with full power when the business was run from counting houses...

From a review of a D.L. Doctorow short fiction collection


Numerous anti-heroes struggle in a broken, confusing world…:Doctorow’s protagonists are obsessed with attempts to understand their fate….And there is the omnipresent but evanescent presence of God and a continuing, frustrated search for Him.

In
Billy’s Dream , “…shadows creep around the earth like the big dark hands of God…” In Short-Order Cook , “…a customer comes into the diner and asks for God, the waitress calls… to the short-order cook: ‘White on rye and hold the bread. Sorry, Mister, the cook is dead.’” In All the Time in the World , the hero, an unidentified runner, is told by the “Program” that “if something is to be revealed it will be revealed to you.” When the runner objects violently saying “Let me be nothing,” Program insists: “There is no nothing. If there were nothing, it would be something.”

The runner (and Doctorow) have the last word: “…I think, for the moment, that I have felt a reverberant hum, as of some distant engine.”
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