American Culture

Action plan #1: buy a damned newspaper

Image1 for post Journalism in an era of onerous deadlines? Not so good anymoreUnless you’ve missed every headline and item in your social media feed, you might have noticed that there’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth today. That’s okay. Get it out of your systems. But for the love of all that you hold dear, try to keep it brief, okay? We need action more than tears. And we need it sooner rather than later.

But what action? Where do we start? Well, as a person with a long history of bitching and moaning instead of acting, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to keep being the person who shows up only to complain. So I’m going to start pitching ideas for action. Some of them will suck. Some will be amazing. They should all be prompts for you, Dear Reader, to do the same. Come up with plans for action. Do them. And pitch them to your friends and anyone else that will listen so they can do them, too.

So what’s this great first idea I’m pitching? Buy a damned newspaper.

Why? Well, as we cast about wildly looking for all the people to blame for what just happened, how about this? We look back and forth between the media we consume and the mirror. Centrist, hawkish, pro-Wall Street MSM televised and broadcast “journalism” sold us down the river. Worse, we let them do it, eagerly. These are big money operations operating on one key principle…profit before all else. They get that profit from ad dollars. They get the ad dollars because of ratings. They get their ratings…because of us.

Starve that beast. Got ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, or even MSNBC on the tube? Cut it. Silence it. Stop rewarding them with your eyeballs. The sooner you do that, the sooner advertisers will stop rewarding them with money.

But, but…we’ve got to get our news from somewhere! Why, yes, yes we do. Start by getting your news online, preferably from the alt-media vehicle of your choice. I’d make the same suggestion to an alt-right nutter who drools at the prospect of another Alex Jones headline. Get off the MSM teat.

And while you’re at it, buy that newspaper. Sure, it’s still MSM at the moment, but in the medium that everyone says is in a death spiral. It doesn’t need to be. And unlike broadcast pseudo-journalism, I’m inclined to think it’s far more amenable to pressure from its audience. You can write letters to ABC all day, but since you’re not the one buying up the six- and seven-figure ad buys, they don’t give a shit. You’re not going to get heard. There’s probably even a special circular file for your grousing about their quality.

The newspaper, on the other hand? Well, for one thing, we keep hearing about the shrinking newsrooms. Why are they shrinking? Because we, you and me, starved them for money because we prefer free over quality. We gave our eyeballs, minds, and arguably sanity to every free source of news we could find. We fired those reporters, we just did it indirectly because we’re a bunch of stingy fucks.

But, but…why should we think they’ll be more responsive? Well, for one thing, we start buying those newspapers again, advertisers will start advertising there again. Hell, take Craigslist away from Craigslist and give them your classified ads again. And send in those letters to the editor. When you compare their coverage to what you get from your favorite alt-media source, let’s say, on the illegal Israeli occupation of various bits of land that aren’t theirs, write to ask why the paper didn’t cover it they way they should. When they don’t do as good a job of investigative reporting as we get from Pro Publica, write to ask why. And if that’s not enough? Picket. It might be a helluva stretch to get to CBS headquarters, but your local paper is right there. Organize and force them to commit real journalism. And definitely call them out when you see any sign of horse race reportage rearing its ugly head.

Maybe then, when broadcast is starved for the benefit of print, maybe just maybe we’ll get some real journalism back, journalism focused on issues over personalities and on realities instead of perceptions.

There you have it. My first action idea. Maybe it’s a stinker. Maybe it isn’t. Meanwhile, what’s your idea for action? Let’s get this ball rolling now, not when we’re done licking wounds.

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