Proof? We don’t need no stinkin’ proof. (Updated)

The NY Times asks, “If Trump Tweets It, Is It News?” I suppose it is, just as much as if he spoke the words.

Trevor Noah addressed the situation on last night’s Daily Show,saying what many of us are thinking: Do we really want someone (not that we can do anything about it), who has the attention and diplomatic skills of a toddler.I guess this also applies to many of the Trump supporters I’ve interacted with on social media.

 You can tell that journalists are exhausted, but since they’re in the business they have to report on it, lest they don’t while their competitors do.

Lest we forget: Newspapers

I visited the library yesterday, mostly to get out of the house while my wife was giving a music lesson.

In an attempt to save money and reduce clutter, I tend to read most of my magazines there, Entertainment Weekly being my guilty pleasure (what can I say, I’m a wild and crazy guy).

But a subhead on The Week caught my eye. The Week is a great publication for millennials, culling major stories from a number of varied sources into easily digested material.

In this case, “the issue of the week” for the issue of Nov. 12 was “Time to write newspapers’ obituary?

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The upshot of this sorry story:

What’s a worried journalist to do?

What are you worried about, Gregg Jamback?

Hard to believe it’s been 30+ years since Gregg Jamback and I were in grad school together. We were part of an internship program at Brooklyn College, splitting our time like superheros: working for the TV department in various capacities by day and taking classes towards a masters degree by night.

jambackOut of the 13 people in our group, as far as I know I’m the only one who did not actually go into the field. (That’s all right, I hate fields; you never know what’s lying out there in the weeds.) Gregg, for example, is an award-winning documentary film producer living in Winston-Salem, NC. You can read about his current project, In Pursuit of Justice, at inpursuitofjusticefilm.com.

My reaction to the election has been to stop listening to the news, stop reading any opinion pieces, and to try, whenever I am tempted to mention his name, to call him the lying, misogynist, bigot who we elected president.

I was in this same spot after the Bush/Kerry election. I had spent election morning driving around Kernersville (a Republican stronghold) checking the votes in polling places and listening to what was then Sirius/XM’s “left” radio station. In that election they confidently reported that Kerry was way ahead. That, of course, was not the case. Shame on me that I was lured in again.

I never believed the lying misogynist bigot we elected president would win the republican nomination, let alone the presidency. I supported Hillary because I believed that if we nominated Bernie the Repubs would spend every waking moment calling him a socialist. Of course, back then I thought there would be two normal presidential candidates.

Watching the election was like watching a train wreck. I couldn’t stop looking. Every morning I turned on Morning Joe. What had the lLMBWEP done now? I thoroughly enjoyed the bashing Joe and the crew delivered to the LMBWEP and cringed when they delivered yet another tirade on Hillary’s emails – even though they knew that there was nothing there.

I read The New York Times, smiling smugly at their endorsement of Hillary; and shaking my head at every article damning her. But I was confident she would win. And she didn’t – the electoral college, anyway.

Two nights ago my wife was working late. I flipped through the channels and as usual nothing was on our 200 channels. Finally I checked out On Demand. There I found All the President’s Men, the story of two hungry reporters and an editorial staff who put the constitution ahead of profits and who, ultimately, brought down a sitting president.

For quite a while I’ve been thinking about the news and how it is reported. We all, for sure, listen to our own echo chamber. I favor news from the left. But, more and more, there is no news, or, as it seems to be called now, “reporting.” It is far less expensive for networks to fill their 24-hour “news” channels with opinion and analysis. It’s too expensive to report stories much less stick with them as the Washington Post did with the Watergate story that brought Nixon down.

Democracy relies on an educated populous and vigorous freedom of the press. But where is that education going to come from? What good is freedom of the press if our news agencies only report the easy stories and then endlessly talk about it?

Is our population educated if it denies science, reads the web with no critical thinking, or believes outlandish conspiracy theories?

We have so devalued education in this country that it is hard to find an educated populous. Surely, if the LMBWEP can win an election by telling people “Believe me” we do not have one.

To survive Trump’s turn at the helm we are going to need an independent, non-profit driven press. And, I’m afraid, none exists anymore.

‘Kay? Now that you see how it’s done, isn’t it easy? So send your thoughts and concerns to rkaplannj(at)gmail(dot)com. And spread the word!

Now that that’s over with

Hope you all had a pleasant holiday, without too much worry over the state of things. Now it’s back to business.

I created TWJ as a place where media-types can gather together in a safe environment. A place where they could share their own thoughts and worries without judgment. I encouraged you to send guests posts to me at rkaplannj(at)gmail(dot)com.  I promised no editing. Well, practically none; I’ll only step in if the IDs of the sender drag me into it with fawning praise, etc. And typographic things that I’ve become used to over the years.

https://i1.wp.com/www.egconf.com/sites/the-eg/files/styles/presenter/public/peter-sagal.jpgBut I get it. Nobody wants to be the one to make the first move. Fortunately at this point in my life, I DGAF (parents, ask your kids) so I asked Peter Sagal, host of my favorite NPR show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, if I could use one of his recent Facebook posts on this site. We have a wee bit of history: I wrote a couple of articles about him for the NJ Jewish News and he blurbed one of my books.

So here are Peter’s thoughts about the recent elections:

Something I did that helped my mood: I wrote notes to many of the reporters who I followed all during the election to thank them for their excellent and important work, and I encouraged them to keep at it… no matter how tough it might get. Because all the (true) things you know about our incoming President, whether encouraging or not, you learned from some journalist doggedly doing her or his work. I also sent the following note to my colleagues at NPR:

Hello, all. This is (I think) my first All-staff, and will be my last until the inevitable “I’m leaving for a new career as a Lyft driver” email in a couple of years.

I have been an NPR host for 18 years, which makes me one of the grizzled old vets in the building. Except, of course, I’m not in the building. I’m a thousand miles away. And, to put it mildly, my work is not exactly part of the company’s core mission, unless you define “All Things” to be Considered as including fart jokes. (That’s my beat, Audie.) So, I have always been — by geography, mission and let’s face it, a certain lack of gravitas — a step removed from what people think of as “NPR.”

But as I often say, I was a devoted listener before I ever dreamed on being on the air, and remain so. I wanted to tell you all — all of you who actually do the work that makes NPR important and valuable — that after this election, with its stunning result, and now looking forward to many, many more surprises to come — that I have never, ever been prouder to be a part of this grand conspiracy to bring the country the truth, seven days a week. (With one hour reserved for fart jokes.) Your work has been superb, your dedication inspiring, your courage considerable. That last may be called on even more in coming months and years, and I have no doubt you — We, dammit! — will respond.

Thank you all.

Peter

See? That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now that Peter’s taken the first step, I hope y’all won’t be shy. What’s bothering you, bubbaleh? Being treated unfairly at the office? Having a hard time adjusting to life after newspapers? Trying to figure out how to change the writing style you’ve developed over decades of award-winning work? Again, I invite you to send your thoughts and complaints to me rkaplannj(at)gmail(dot)com. Indicate how you wish to be identified, either for reals or via a nom de plume.

Remember our theme song:

This blog is your blog
This blog is my blog.
So send me comments
So I don’t come off as a hog.

Yeah, still needs some work.

Sanity is for lazy people

Between looking for a new position and waiting for the editor to ask for revisions about my forthcoming book, I fill the time by hosting three blogs, including this one, and managing the Facebook page for JTA sports. There are enough instances where the material I find can be used in more than one location, so keeping track of everything has proven to be a challenge. For example, I’ll finish a post on the Facebook page which can also be used for my blog on Jews and sports, although I have to flesh it out a lot more since the Facebook gig is basically a headline, picture, and link. But when I post to the blog, I have to remember to get it up on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In.

Then there’s the blog on baseball books and pop culture, which also requires separate steps to post to social media.

And then there’s the blog you’re reading now. Maybe someone of influence can help a brother out with a full-time situation? Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

And remember: The Worried Journalist was created as a community setting so please share your thoughts here (in addition to or instead of to Facebook) in the form of comments or even guest entries.

desire

Are you worried about your obituary?

Ralph Branca has died.

https://i1.wp.com/www.buckbokai.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Branca-after-the-shot.jpgThe former Brooklyn Dodger famously surrendered “the shot heard round the world,” Bobby Thomson’s magical home run that caused broadcaster Russ Hodges to yell, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!…”

An apocryphal story has Branca lamenting to a priest, “Why did this have to happen to me?” To which the cleric replied, “God never gives us more than we can bear” or some similar sentiment.

One of the last “Boys of Summer,” Branca probably knew how his obituary would begin immediately after he gave up that home run. Regardless of what he had done before or would do after, this one moment would be his legacy.

Some of us might wonder what will lead off our obituary when the time comes. Will it because of some great thing we accomplished? Or will it be for the one thing we slipped up on? And will it matter? That depends on your perception of the afterlife (if you believe in that sort of thing). Do you really care what people think of you, either here in the present or after the close the lid?

More on Branca:

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Is Trump’s attitude towards the media worth worrying about?

I have nothing better to do, so I’ve been devouring news about Trump’s meeting with journalists, basically telling them what losers they are because they got the election wrong. And knowing his wonderful temperament, he was determined to be the better man and not rub it in. (See, Mr. President-Elect? That is sarcasm.)

On-air stars like Lester Holt, Charlie Rose, George Stephanopoulos and Wolf Blitzer headed to Trump Tower for the off-the-record gathering, typically the kind of event where journalists and politicians clear the air after a hard-fought campaign.

Instead, the president-elect delivered a defiant message: You got it all wrong.

Mr. Trump, whose antagonism toward the news media was unusual even for a modern presidential candidate, described the television networks as dishonest in their reporting and shortsighted in missing the signs of his upset victory. He criticized some in the room by name, including CNN’s president, Jeffrey A. Zucker, according to multiple people briefed on the meeting who were granted anonymity to describe confidential discussions.

Of course, his devoted robots minions want to put a positive spin on things.

Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to Mr. Trump, described the meeting in more tempered terms. “It was very cordial, very productive, very congenial,” Ms. Conway told reporters at Trump Tower. “It was also very candid and very honest.”

Today the love-fest continued when he met with representatives from The New York Times. You know, that failed newspaper. Things seemed to go a bit smoother, but maybe that’s just both sides trying to be  somewhat tactful.

Are we becoming a nation where the press has to worry about what they write about their leaders? Or is the media’s turn to “double-down,” refusing to retreat from their attitudes towards Trump and his followers with continued op-ed pieces and articles abut his faults, his uninformed choices, and his inability to understand the seriousness of the office?

And not just the news media…

Facebook admits problems with fake news. Ya think?

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What took you so long, Mark Zuckerberg?

As if things aren’t tough enough when it comes to a legitimate journalist finding a job.

Recognizing the problem is the first step. So whatcha gonna do about it, Mark?

A bigger question, though, is how will “the Internet” police itself in this regard. Obviously fake news isn’t just a FB problem.

Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times contributed this piece on “How Fake News Goes Viral.”

The green-eyed monster

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/ab/Othello_(1952_film)_poster.jpgSo my wife and I attended a book event in town for Steve Twomey, author of the wonderful new book, Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack. Twomey is a long-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (so that’s the first jealous point) and I’m guessing his latest offering (reviewed here in The New York Times) will garner him additional adulation and awards (point two).

A few months ago I reviewed Michael Leahy’s The Last Innocents: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the best baseball books I’ve ever read (third point). Granted he had been working on his project for several years, while I’ve never had more than one for any of my books. Even if I did, I doubt I could ever approach that level of  craftsmanship and depth of research. Oh, did I mention Leahy is also an award-winner? (four)

My boss at the newspaper, whom I and many others consider a brilliant editorial writer (another award-winner; five), would occasionally comment on how he admired me for having the patience to write an entire book. But I’m one of those people who waits until the doomsday clock is three minutes before midnight (kids, ask your parents) before I get it into gear. So even if I did have years, it might not matter that much.

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I’m not one to name drop, but I’ve corresponded with New York Times‘ media columnist Richard Sandomir over the years. (The media and sports are two of my favorite topics.) He’s publishing The Pride of the Yankees: The Movie that Defined the Legacy of Lou Gehrig next spring, which I look forward to with delight since TPOTY is perhaps my all-time favorite baseball movie. In one of our more recent exchanges, I mentioned my despair over the Leahy business and Sandomir sagely told me, don’t compare yourself with anyone else.  Good advice. But if people always took good advice, there would be a lot fewer mental health care professionals out there.