Hear that sucking sound? It’s the sound of people like this being sucked into the Obama administration:
Influential Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks has hung up her journalistic hat and joined the Obama administration, but not before penning a public proposal calling for some radical ideas to help bail out the failing news industry.
Brooks, who has taken up a post as an adviser at the Pentagon, advocated upping “direct government support for public media” and creating licenses to govern news operations.
In the minds of some people, for every problem in the world there is a solution that involves an immense bureaucracy spending other people’s money. Of course for people like Ms. Brooks who can’t hack it in the private sector, I can understand why becoming one of the bureauracy’s millions has its appeal.
I used to read the LA Times. In fact I used to read two newspapers a day. My older sisters taught me to read using newspapers (the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the long defunct St. Louis Globe Democrat). I used to visualize my travels through the world by the mastheads of the newspapers that thrived in the cities I called home. The Chicago Tribune and Sun Times. The San Diego Union and the San Diego edition of the LA Times. The Japan Times and Daily Yomiuri. That was before the Internet, and long before I got tired of reading commentary passing for objective reporting.
Today I remain a voracious “information junky” bouncing between up to 20 different websites daily searching for up-to-the-minute news. I still subscribe to two mainstream magazines: The Economist and New Scientist. Why? Because their in-depth articles can’t be found on websites geared towards 250 word wire stories. Both are biased to the left, but not as much as other publications in their fields (okay, that’s a stretch for the New Scientist – but I’ve taken to skipping articles ripe with Global Warming hysteria). I also read the local newspaper, Community Pub, because the newspaper covers what’s happening locally – something that the “big” newspapers in the area – the News Journal and the Philly papers – refuse to do.
I’ve written at length about the failure of newspapers to appeal to someone like me – someone who was once one of their core subscribers and fans. In their zest to cut costs they’ve avoided local stories that appeal to their base subscribers in favor of national and international wire stories that can be found elsewhere. When I pick up a Delaware paper I want to read about the happenings in Delaware – not Washington DC, New York, or San Francisco. But the newspapers don’t get that; they’ve lost the ability to respond to their markets’ needs and so they are losing readers.
On top of this is the sham of unbiased reporting. Writing by its very nature is biased, as is any action done by a human being. That’s why scientists use double-blind methods to remove bias from their studies. Journalists have to either write pablum to avoid pissing off any0ne with half a brain, or they call what they do “unbiased” and say what they want anyway. Either way they are lying to their readers who simply throw up their hands and get their news elsewhere.
But most journalists don’t get this. They blame everyone but themselves. The Internet. Bloggers. Capitalism. This is music to the ears of someone like Ms. Brooks. To Brooks this screams for a government solution. The government should license the media – thereby controlling the market and killing off threats like Pajamas Media, freelance writers and bloggers.
What is truly amazing to me is that had any Conservative commentator proposed under the Bush Adminstration what Brooks is proposing today there would have been riots in news rooms across the country – and rightly so. Conservatives may hate the MSM passionately today, but none want to kill it by turning the Fourth Estate into a government department. It only makes sense to the short-sighted nutjobs that have deified Barack Obama to the point where they have forgotten that in less than 8 years – perhaps as short as 4 if people like me have our way – Obama will be gone and replaced by a real human being - possibly even a Conservative one who views the world very differently than the likes of Ms. Brooks.
In a sense it’s probably better for the newspaper industry that it loses short-sighted wackos like Brooks to government service. Maybe those that are left will be better able to understand that they can survive and even thrive by focusing on their strengths – local reporting – while giving up on the lie of unbiased reporting. The New York Times can survive if it reports on New York and admits to being geared towards wealthy liberals. And the LA Times can do similarly by reporting on Southern California from the perspective of limousine liberals there. Conservatives who live elsewhere will do just fine with our Fox News and Wall St. Journals for national and international news, and our micropapers like the Community Pub for our local news.