Or does it?
I was flipping through the dial recently (kids, that’s an expression that means looking at the guide channel on my Comcast) and chanced upon His Gal Friday, a 1940 remake of The Front Page, itself a remake of the 1931 flick about the newspaper industry. It’s amazing how many classic films involve with the power of the press — The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington come immediately to mind — that plays such an important role in influencing and educating the public.
Where does that come from now?
Not traditional newspapers. Those who have been following this blog for awhile know the reason I started it was to whine after losing my own job as an editor/writer when my employer got bought out. Probably the main reason I haven’t been able to find something similar is that so many of my contemporaries — many of whom are far more experienced and talented than I — are in the same situation and there are only so many jobs to go around?
What about TV news? I don’t watch the local fare, pretty much relying on ABC as my go-to network. Problem is, they follow the same pattern night after night: breaking news (and isn’t it always breaking? Seems like somewhat of an oxymoron: if it’s not breaking, is it really “news?”). You got your latest Trump debacle; a police manhunt/case mishandling; and there’s always some severe weather, whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, or volcano eruption. That’s all good for about 10 minutes. Then you get teasers followed by 30-second stories with constant commercial breaks. I have gotten into the habit of DVRing the program, skipping through the intro, and deleting when the first adverts come on.
Then there are the all-news cable stations. I’m a snowflake, so I watch CNN, but even that gets old. I realize there aren’t many people who sit and watch it all day long, so I shouldn’t complain about the constant repetition, but I have to agree that it does get to be a bit much. The stories seem to be about the most salacious items (Dr. Bornstein, Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen flipping, Comey’s book, the madness of Rudy Giuliani). These come at the expense of the less dramatic but ultimately more important issues that don’t have great visuals, like tax reform and health care. Yes, you get the initial information/lip service, but that gets supplanted as soon as someone else in the administration quits or gets fired (how is Giuliani still there, by the way?)
Despite all the stories about all the lies Trump has spewed since taking office, there are still millions who don’t seem to care.
What does he have to do? He has said he’s so popular, he could kill someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose voters. Seems there something to that. Just look at his base when they’re interviewed on programs like The Daily Show and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. And, yes, I know there’s editing involved to pick out the biggest, but at least they’re real people, not like the teenage actors hired after that Parkland shooting (#that_was_sarcasm). Trump fiddles at NRA conventions and campaign rallies while the country burns with poor international relations, poor climate, poor infrastructure, and a diminishing respect in the eyes of the world.
There are those intrepid journalists who would like to work on these stories, but it’s become more and more difficult to do that outside The New York Times and Washington Post, and a handful of other outlets, and they seem to have all the writers and reporters they need. A few enterprising types have sought to start new news ventures and I wish them well. But such opportunities are not for people like me; they’re for those just starting out, those wishing to make names for themselves who can afford not to make a living in the short run. I looked at a few jobs that paid as little as $15 for a 5,000 word article. They might be a great launch point, but they weren’t anything I could afford, what with a mortgage and bills to pay.
I really worry what people of my daughter’s generation and younger will do for their news. Here’s wishing them well. Assuming that the country is still viable after four years of the current leadership.