Sunday, March 20, 2005

Generations in the News Business

The Prop at coffeegrounds has got my intellectual juices flowing with two pieces. In the first, he points out some disconnects between current issues and media headlines, and asks,

Why, oh why, aren't people showing more respect for us?? -- MSM
I've been struggling in the 24 hours since he posted that item to come up with some witty play on words in response, without success. But then, the Prop lit the light at the end of the tunnel for me, with this comment on an item titled "Rather's Revenge?" over at Sluggo Needs a Nap:
See the current discussion over at my place on what makes news vs. what makes headlines.
At some point the News business became the news Business. Or maybe it always was and 1940-1980 was an anomoly?
I think the Prop has hit the nail squarely on the head here -- 1940-80 was an anomaly. An entire generation came together as never before to defeat, nearly simultaneously, three militaristic fascist regimes. The people whose lives were formed by those events were the leaders of the news business through the late 70s. Then, a new generation of leaders, untouched by the war their parents had fought, took over the leadership.
Their war experience was primarily in protest against, not in active execution of national policy. This has colored their choices about what constitutes news, with a default position that war is always wrong.
Walter Cronkite created some controversy by breaking ranks with his contemporaries (the WWII generation) and coming out against the Vietnam war. Today, accusations fly and tempers rise if a media organization presents facts in support of any administration policy that would use force to protect our nation's interests. The leadership of the MSM has become so locked into this viewpoint that they cannot break out.
I believe that the leaders of the MSM are pretty smart people. Intellectually, they know that it's not possible for every position of the administration to be wrong-headed and dangerous, yet they continue to portray them as such. This is due to the mechanism of peer pressure -- none of them want to be first.
This conflict between what their intellect and emotions tell them to do forms the basis for the answer to the Prop's question. The MSM leadership knows the right thing to do, from the example of the previous generation. We are engaged in a global war, and the nation needs to band together again to defeat the threat to our society. Yet, they refuse to do the right thing because they fear the consequences they would face from their own peers.
The bottom line -- more people aren't showing respect for the mainstream media because they don't respect themselves. If they did have a true sense of self-respect, then they would act in the way that they knew was right, rather than in the way that they think the group wants them to act. They are moral cowards, and the continuous display of criminals, perverts and freaks rather than issues of substance serves to distract the majority of the population from the media's lack of a spine.

Revisited, Feb 01, 2006: Thanks for reading Mister Snitch's compilation of The Best Posts of 2005. Inexplicably, he selected this piece. I guess it takes all types.