Journalists have been a vital part of American society for quite some time. They have outed government corruption and exposed Americans to stories that would have otherwise gone unknown. Some of the journalists I admire most include Daniel Schorr, Edward R. Murrow, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and Walter Cronkite.
There are some interesting patterns in this list. Most of these people challenged prevailing “common knowledge” about the way things were in the world. Murrow, for instance, helped defeat McCarthyism. They all took risks, often risking their own lives to get vital, real stories out. Also, not one of them is under 60 years old, and in fact, most are either dead or in the 80+ range. They all had their moments of widest fame before I was born.
Today I am reflecting on the American media after watching the special on Peter Jennings last night. I am not usually very positive about the American media. I don’t think (in general) that the mainstream media is biased, but rather that it is stupid and useless. Seeing headlines about rescued cats, celebrity trials, and which celebrity is hawking which religion tends to make a person dismiss the media outlets that run these headlines.
Where do I get most of my news? NPR, Google, and BBC. Occasionally from the New York Times, Washington Post, Deutsche Welle, CSPAN, and various British newspapers. I find these sources actually provide, well, news. Sometimes even a useful investigation, and I don’t mean the “on your side” investigations about the mechanic that ripped someone off for $20.
Seeing clips of Peter Jennings’ reports showed me something. This was a person, working for a mainstream news organization (owned by Disney, no less) that actually did get real, relevant news out there. He covered the genocide in Bosnia to an impressive degree.
I guess sometimes I forget that the mainstream media occasionally does get it right. I must remember that there are good people out there, even working for TV news organizations, that are dedicated in the same way that Daniel Schorr was.
Though it will be really hard to keep this in mind when watching Fox News.