April 9, 2008

Last Remnant of Real Journalism

I've been involved in an e-mail debate this week talking about how reporters are trained to find at least two sides of everything, preferably three, when putting together a story.

One of the participants in this debate, who lives in Israel, posted a series of quotes from news articles collected over the years focused mainly on the War in Iraq/Afghanistan. One in particular seemed to stand out from the rest, perhaps because of the subject:

"Speaking to the U.N. Security Council last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell made so strong a case that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is in material breach of U.N. resolutions that only the duped, the dumb and the desperate could ignore it."
(Cal Thomas, syndicated column, 2/12/03)

And also this one from The Fathead himself:

"What's he going to talk about a year from now, the fact that the war went too well and it's over? I mean, don't these things sort of lose their--Isn't there a fresh date on some of these debate points?"
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, speaking about Howard Dean--4/9/03)

We all know the U.S. media did next to nothing in questioning our government in the run up to Iraq, mostly because the government managed to scare the shit out of everybody a la Red Commie days, making it seem that disagreeing with military plans was, well, as the president himself said, "You're either for us or you're against us."

Scary words then, and even scarier upon reflection.

But there still are some good media outlets out there that continue to do reporting as it's meant to be - acting as the fourth arm of government; keeping everything in check. Below, I listed the media outlets that I continue to read, watch or listen to daily.

There is one Web site I try to visit every day, and read the three columns they post every morning, summarizing the day's news from U.S. newspapers, providing prospects and angles from many different sources, even adding in their own takes and opinions from time to time. It's very informative, not to mention a great time saver. The Web site is called "Slate," and the three columns in question are:

"Todays Papers"

"Todays Blogs"

"Other Magazines"

with special attention being played to Todays Papers, which provides the newspaper summary. Either way, with these three columns Slate does a good job approaching reporting they way we were saying is lacking in fundamental journalism today. They also do original reporting and columns on the front page - some of them tongue in cheek, some of them serious pieces - that get ignored by the mainstream media, especially TV (I cannot underscore enough that TV reporting is no longer journalism; it is infotainment, should be taken as such, and should no longer be considered in serious talks about the media.) There are, of course, a few examples of worthy TV news programs:

"Anderson Cooper 360"

"Countdown with Keith Olbmerman"

"Real Time with Bill Maher"

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for an irreverent but accurate wrap up of the days events.

"The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer"

Of course "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert, who still a crusty old journalist who is not afraid to tell Dick Cheney, "Are you insane?"

And believe it or not, "Lou Dobbs Tonight" even though you're going to hear a certain portion of the show dedicated to illegal immigration. One thing about Lou, he'll call out a reporter for asking a stupid question, or for letting a subject snow his/her way through an interview. I've seen more than one reporter get visibly upset at Lout on the air, but when he does this he's right and the reporter knows it. It makes for some interesting TV, if nothing else.

I have to add one radio show, "The Schnitt Show," whose tagline is, "You're listening to an extreme pile of Schnitt." Todd Schnitt, the host out of Tampa Bay, Fla., calls himself a moderate republican, but he has no problem railing again people from his own party. He'll call anybody out for lackadaisical behavior, and is actually in favor of Sen. Hilary Clinton winning the Democratic nomination. Schnitt is finally starting to get syndicated, but if you can't pick him up on a local station there is a link on his Web site where you can listen to the show over the Internet. He's also on XM Satellite Radio, which is how I pick him up.

Anyway, those are the last of the truly unbiased, or as close to it as you're going to come, TV, print and Internet news/political shows, in my honest opinion.

Give them a whirl, especially the stuff on The Slate, and let me know what you think.

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