“Eat your oatmeal or you’re feeding the Kaiser!”
That’s what my grandmother used to tell my dad when he was a little boy. World War I was in full swing; it was The Great War then. Everyone was supposed to do their part to help the war efforts.
When I was a kid, my parents said I should eat my dinner as there were people starving in far off countries that would be glad to have my food. As far as I was concerned, I was willing to pay to send my dinner to them! I had a hard time believing that anyone could be that hungry.
Then I saw a news report on a famine in Africa. It was quite eye opening. I remember a reporter explaining that, when they saw the reports on that famine, they knew they had to put the story on the nightly news.
The country, the world, he said, needed to know what was happening. That was what news was like, when I was a kid. Reporters didn’t tell us what we wanted to hear, they told us the things we needed to know.
Yeah, that’s what reporters did. These days, not so much, it’s mostly fill time. These days, we don’t have reporters. Instead, we have the media and it’s nothing like reporters.
The media lets politicians say anything they want, even lie, and not call them on it. I have to wonder, if the Watergate scandal took place today, would we learn about it? I doubt it. The media wouldn’t care and, besides, there would be movies to report on, how much the new releases had made their first weekend, for example, and the activities of the latest celebrity, a person known for his or her well-knowness and nothing else, to talk about.
I remember reading magazines like “Time” and “Newsweek,” and my dad enjoyed “US News & World Report,” most. Even a magazine, such as “Parade,” would contain some interesting articles. The last time I read “Time,” it was about half the size I remember and had too many advertisements. As for “Parade,” it fell to nothing but fluff. I was able to read the latest issue in about five minutes. It was such a disappointment.
Then, also quite recently, I heard about a new development. Some young people online were all excited about a new type of newsperson. Someone even wrote a lengthy article about these people. According to the article, these people took notes on what politicians said, then fact-checked their statements, wrote a length blog post on the validity of what they’d said and told people if the politician had been honest or deceptive. This totally blew away the readers of these articles.
What an idea. Checking on what people said to reporters. Then telling others the degree to which they had told the truth!
I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry, when I read the article. I did post a comment and tell the readers that what they were experiencing was reporting and that long ago they served a valuable purpose and played a valuable role, in society. These days, what with “news” channels that either report mindless pap or merely tell people what they want to hear, the very idea of a responsible reporter is alien.
It was very refreshing to hear that maybe, just maybe, the Fourth Estate was re-asserting itself. Who knows, maybe, just maybe I’ll start reading newspapers again. I can only hope!
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
Click above to tell a friend about this article.