Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Hell Before Breakfast"

"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast."
William Tecumseh Sherman

A recent story in the November 18th edition of the Birmingham News, from Editor Pam Siddall, caught our eye, but if you did not pick up the print copy of the News and relied on the online digital newspaper edition you would have missed it entirely. The digital version of the story is a shadow of the printed version, which happens more often than not.

News publisher outlines paper's multimedia strategy
"Siddall says she embraces the notion that a daily newspaper in a community like Birmingham needs to be a force for change through watchdog journalism and its ability to hold a mirror up to reflect both the good and bad found out there."

Really? Can we speculate on the number of stories in the public's interests that may have been spiked by this newspaper, that wouldn't have been, if that proverbial "mirror to reflect both the good and bad found out there" had been honestly and freely held up consistently?

Pull up a chair this may take a while to go through...

At some point along the way the press dismissed its first obligation to report without bias and undue influence. This probably occurred when newspapers became so dependent on advertising to keep them in business, and the printed media switched from community watchdogs to special interests propaganda machines. The disconnect between media and the communities they serve is on full display from Alabama to Washington--we're not being honestly informed. We're being told what they want us to know, and what they consider to be the news and how much we should know (and what we shouldn't.)

Sometimes they do get it right and educate us of some very important issues that we may not have been otherwise aware of, and in those cases they do a stellar job of it. 

Case in point: Senator Rockefeller D-WV (off his meds apparently) has recently suggested that the FCC remove Fox and MSNBC from the airwaves. He's unhappy that he and his colleagues are under scrutiny for the shenanigans they pull on the American people as often as a lobbyist tells lies to our elected legislators.

Revised bad lawyer joke: How can you tell if a lobbyist is lying? He's breathing.

Rockefeller made waves in the national media with these arrogant words just a couple of days ago: 
“There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the F.C.C. to say to Fox and to MSNBC,  Out. Off. End. Goodbye," he said. "It would be a big favor to political discourse; to our ability to do our work here in Congress; and to the American people, to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and, more importantly, in their future.”

"Our business?" Pardon the hell out of us Senator Rocksinthehead, but weren't you elected to do the people's business? We're just sayin'.

If it had not been for the media, those comments would have not made it into the news cycles and the public may not have known that with arrogant dolts like the Senator from WV in office, we better pay more attention to who we elect.

That was a good thing and there are more, but even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while.

Even though there are instances where the media gets it right, far too often they get it wrong by suppressing news and not honestly reporting to the public "just the facts ma'am."  Instead we get a form of perverted facts that have been fed to the press by special interests and their high priced PR men. And they dutifully report on it without fact-checking the information. Particularly in Alabama.

John and Jane Q. Alabama are relegated to commentary in the Letters to the Editor forum and have no direct access to clandestine behind closed door discussions between the press and corporate or political entities that may directly affect their communities in negative ways. The playing field between the media and the citizens is perpetually slanted in favor of special interests.

We're fed what they want us to consume in Alabama.

We've covered this in a previous post, "The Kingfishers of Alabama's Mainstream Newspapers"  based in part on a revealing article from Harper's, that detailed how Alabama's media outlets are held captive by these political and special interests. We have now arrived at the point of no return in our opinions. Advertising dollars are all that stands between printed news outlets and extinction and they will not rock the boat by upsetting a revenue source. Or a political heavyweight. Even if it means distorting the real story. Or the deliberate spiking of stories.

Consequently, most newsworthy issues are perpetually absent from our media outlets and there is no "watchdog journalism" going on at all, for the most part. 

And that's the way it's been purposefully designed to be. Exposure equals embarrassment, and the bruising of bloated political egos, along with their carefully crafted public images that won't stand for a true reflection of what's really in the mirror.

If you're a politician or corporate giant, it helps if you are connected to message control heavy's like someone who was the former executive director of the Alabama Press Association that currently works as a big shot lobbyist and governmental affairs consultant. That's someone, who from that former position, who would have developed a wide array of media contacts to call on and who can influence the desired message to the public through the Alabama MSM media. 

Just ask Governor-elect Bentley's communications director, Stephen Bradley, but watch out for that long bony finger he likes to jab at those who he dislikes, it could be injurious.

If the citizenry of Alabama knew the actual truth about their politicians, and the government chicanery that goes on from the state level all the way down to small community government, there would be "Hell before breakfast" of another sort served up with a big piece of pissed off pie on the side at the next communal electoral tables.

So say we the Opinion Board of the Vincent Alabama Confidential
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  1. Re: Transparency and the chasm between John Q. Citizen's's access to officials and/or so-called public information and Daddy Warbuck's

    We have heard that in some places, the appointment calendars of public officials are available to any member of the public upon request.

    What a concept!

    If such a policy had been in place in Jefferson County, Alabama when commissioner Mary Buckelew was receiving "guests" who convinced her to kill an award-winning floodplain ordinance and substitute one written by BARD, well, maybe mainstream media or a blogger could have made those visits public.

    We also hear that during this year's campaign for county commission, the three candidates for district 5 all pledged to make their appointment calendars/list of visitors available to the public.

    That would be a good start toward transparency. Follow that with making meeting minutes available and putting campaign finance reports and the county's finance reports online, and we might make some progress.

    One example of how fast a politician's door swings open for a Big Mule can be found in the Birmingham Business Journal's account of how Trinity ended up at Digital Hospital.

    The clock was ticking and Charlie Tickle knew any wasted time could derail his vision for the vacant Digital Hospital.

    Daniel Corp.’s CEO needed an aggressive and passionate ally to turn his plan into reality. Tickle found a willing and relentless partner in Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford.

    After purchasing the former HealthSouth Corp. campus in January, Daniel looked for viable uses for the 13-story, 1 million-square-foot Digital Hospital that was left unfinished amid HealthSouth’s multibillion-dollar accounting scandal.

    The first call Tickle made was to Langford. He was in the mayor’s office later that day.

    Could Joe Blow from Middle-Class neighborhood get in to see the mayor of Birmingham or any other burg that quickly? Not a chance.

    PS The Atlanta Journal Constitution just banned reporters from using the word "sprawl"

  2. The No News is a waste of trees and ink. They sold their souls long ago to the dark side.

  3. They must be using a funhouse mirror.

  4. I can just imagine what the BBA, BBC and GBRPC sing outside Siddall's window whenever they want something: "Pamela, Pamela, throw down your sense of ethics."
    How old is she anyway?
    These newspapers are going for younger and younger staff and editors, probably because of the ease of malleability of their empty heads. They have no sense of history of the big players they supposedly "fairly" cover.

  5. All of print media is headed to the graveyard and that's why we see a surge in social media by the news outlets. But, even that won't save them if they don't get some investigative journalists back on the payrolls because the public is hungry for accurate information that they are not getting from out of touch and agenda driven media outlets.
    The curtain is finally starting to lift and the public is catching on. I firmly believe the blogosphere has helped that to happen.

  6. Very interesting and I enjoyed visiting.

  7. The phrase "going to hell in a hand basket" comes to mind too. Censoring of the news and the downfall of investigative reporting (once held in high regard) has caused great delight among the cockroaches.

  8. The problem with most media is that they accept press releases at face value:
    "Corporations and organizations regularly issue press releases to distribute their side of an issue or story to the media. Some media outlets reprint these releases as "news" without doing their homework or any investigative journalism."
    It's much simpler for the staff to just repeat what they're told and not take the time to insure they are being given accurate information. In short__they're lazy.
    The concept of framing the news is a dressed up synonym for bias.
    And it is alive and well in this new age of slave-to-the-advertisers media.


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