Brian Stelter in a short video from CNN says "press freedom is your freedom."
I don't buy it. Stelter is one of the more outgoing and accessible of the political reporters, but that's not saying a lot. I don't think he or the people who appear on his show have anything to do with our freedom, and I'm not in the mood to hear this kind of pitch after they sold us out in this election.
They're in the access business. And they all know it, and even the little people, like me, know it. So it's a total smh moment when Stelter gets all preachy like this.
Most of what you hear on the news shows are total lies. They're reduced to reporting on narratives, perceptions, optics, these are the actual words they use, but not the truth and certainly not the interests of the people they report for. A lot of people end up believing the lies, they vote based on the lies, or they go elsewhere to get other lies.
When they report on plans to kill Social Security, why isn't the headline about how it will affect the people? It's more about the horse race, and one party's chances to control the Senate in 2018. (Which is incredibly pathetic given that all the horse race coverage in 2016 was in the end totally worthless.) Millions of Americans, your readers, are going to lose their retirement savings. Why is it so hard to adopt that point of view?
It's totally apparent that we have to re-form journalism around the needs of voters, and ignore the charade. It's just acting-for-advertising, that's all that's going on here.
In 2004, when I lived in Boston, I heard a commercial on the local NPR station, a pledge drive in which the president of the station said "you are the owner of the station." The you in that sentence referred to the listener who in this case was me, Dave Winer. I was an academic and curious if that could be chased down, so I called her, got routed to a PR person who sent me their annual report, a glossy brochure and a letter asking me to contribute money. At no point was there a discussion of how I wanted my station to cover the news, or a suggestion of an idea that I might contribute content or even technology to the station that after all I was the owner of. (I wanted to tell them about the then-nascent podcasting, btw.)
Part of not normalizing our political situation is to not accept the way American journalism has evolved up to 2016. It doesn't work because it is centered on the perspective of a small number of people in New York and Washington. There is a solid impenetrable wall around it. It can't get better until it emerges outside the wall. A reboot has yet to happen and until it does I think the exact opposite of what Stelter says.
Their idea of "freedom" is killing our country.
PS: The fundamental mistake of journalism in the 2016 election is summarized thus: "So many people let this be about Hillary vs insanity when it was really all of us vs insanity."
PPS: I had another experience like the one with WBUR, about 25 years earlier. I realized when I was a comp sci grad student that encyclopedias, which came as huge sets of books, would work better if they were digitized. I wanted to start to work on this. So I contacted Encyclopedia Britannica, which was then the #1 encyclopedia, to open a discussion. Instead they sent a salesman to my apartment in Madison. He kept coming. I was a single grad student, no kids, with access to an incredible library at the university, and not much money. I was not in any way a customer for his product. But he kept coming. Every visit a reminder of how deaf his employer is. (Yes I do see the irony of pointing to the Wikipedia page for Britannica.)