"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