Sunday, December 20, 2009

And you wonder why reporters drink

It's not enough that most of us work long, hard hours for crap wages in a dying industry that is constantly criticized by people who don't know what they are talking about most of the time, or that we are constantly being pushed to lower our professional standards, dumb down coverage or devote time to writing about idiotic crap instead of real news.

People in the news business with those problems are the lucky ones. In a lot of places, writing the truth about what is going on around you, can get you killed.

As depressing as this story is, the comments are downright frightening.

CC shows us how Canada's Lowest Common Dominatrix (a term coined by PSA) and her Stormfront farm team get their jollies off dead journalists, too. Apparently, having someone look around and tell people when the government or other powerful people are trying to screw them is a terrible, terrible thing to some idiots on the right and shooting the messenger seems sensible to them, mostly because they are batshit crazy. Talk about hating freedom...the mind boggles at some of the comments. I don't want to say that Kate McMillan and her gang of flying monkeys are the worst people in the world--they probably aren't out there setting fire to children on a daily basis or anything-- but they are certainly among the worst people on the internet.

What they fail to understand is that everything they know about the world around them is the result of a reporter doing their job. The only reason they know enough about what goes on in Ottawa or Washington or Afghanistan to criticize the decisions being made is because they saw a reporter on TV telling them about it or read a story in the newspaper. Those on the right that fear the government is going to take their guns or complain that it is wasting their money - where the hell do they think that information comes from? the government? And spare the "the blogs will replace newspapers/radio/TV news" bullshit. No "citizen journalist" is going to spend 50 hours a week, 50 weeks a year sitting through government committee meetings for the thrill of being the first on the internet to report that taxes are going up 1.8% or that the government is looking at establishing a rutabega marketing board.

I'll admit that the press doesn't always do its job as well as it should, but the journalists on that list are not dead because they were lazy or biased or crappy writers. Journalism is one of the few jobs in which people die not because they made a mistake, but because they did their jobs very well.

As people in a democracy get the government they deserve, so too do consumers get the media they deserve in a capitalist free-market. You want to know why the cable networks and news magazines are full of bullshit stories about Michael Jackson's plastic surgery or Paris Hilton's latest panty-flash or reports about water-skiing squirrels? Because that crap sells. Because reading about what the government is doing about the deficit is borrrrrrrring! Because consumers want mind-candy, not difficult to process information that might make them uncomfortable.
"Don't show me starving children in Africa or the government violating the constitution, then I'll feel bad because I'm not doing anything about it, it's depressing. I want good news!"
Nobody really cares that Tiger Woods slept with a bunch of women and fucked up his marriage, we just like to see that rich, successful people have the same problems as the rest of us. Nobody wants their opinion challenged, they want to know they were right all along -- that's why FOX News is making a fortune telling idiots that Obama really is a marxist muslim from Kenya and that illegal aliens are plotting to impregnate their daughters just so they can be forced to get an abortion. They knew it all along!

If you don't like the stories you see in the press because you think they are stupid and pointless, write the editor and tell them to quit publishing trivia. Believe me, the reporter who is sent out to cover the waterskiing squirrel would much rather be doing something that matters. If you don't like the stories you see in the press because you think the reporter hasn't done his job and has messed up the information, write the editor and complain. Make the media do a better job, because an informed electorate is essential in a democracy and the only way for it to be informed is by having a free press that does its job.

Reporters who do their job well are not the problem. Consumers who reward media organizations for not doing their jobs, who demand more eye candy and less real information about important things, are the problem.

And if you are one of the knuckle-dragging blar-har-har nitwits who like to cheer for reporters dying on the job, well, fuck you very much. Thanks for doing all you do to make the world a worse place.

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