On the nonexistence of a journalistic bat cave
Today’s Pet peeve: People bitching about “The Media” like we’re all some sort of foreign entity. These are the same jokers who bitch about “The Government” without realizing we’re (for now) all government as part of a participative democracy.
Coming from a household where both of us have worked in, at different times, broadcast and print journalism:
Memo to those of you thinking The Media is an entity “playing” you. The Media is not a singular unit. From the Washington Post, New York Times, CBS, ABC, NBC to local venues like the Tampa Bay Times, Chicago Reader, Sun-Sentinel, City Paper, Creative Loafing and on to hyperlocal papers like The Gabber… if you think any two of these members of the Fourth Estate can agree on anything as simple as what toppings to get on a pizza, much less a grand agenda to control the masses, you’re crazier than Tea Party member who walks into a NOW meeting. Even within news organizations, we don’t agree. Ever. OK, rarely. Sometimes we get it right on the pizza.
Why? Because news organizations consist of *people*. There is no journalistic bat cave, guys, only a professional and ethical sense of responsibilities to the publics we serve. We don’t all get together in a bat cave and plan how to manipulate non-media folks. I mean, the Tampa Bay Times had to sell their building earlier this year; who do you think’s funding a bat cave, anyway? Even if we could afford a bat cave, we’re not sharing information on any level. I know of no quality journalist would would share information or plans with another media outlet.
So, now that almost every legitimate news source of record has chosen to endorse Hillary Clinton, what does that mean? Because, trust me, they didn’t get together and talk about it. There’s no giant typewriter-and-scotch bat signal for journalists that goes up in the sky, letting us all know what we’re supposed to tell people.
So why do all the respected media outlets all endorse Clinton?
Honestly, I don’t know what any of them are thinking. I know what CL’s editorial staff wants and believes, because I’m part of it and sit in the meetings. That’s where my knowledge ends. But I do think it has something to do with this:
There’s a reason journalists have special protections and there’s a reason when a media outlet endorses, it has done so. I guarantee you, if it is a respected news outlet following FCC rules about what makes it a news outlet, it’s not doing so to play people or manipulate, it’s doing so because it’s editorial team has had to ferret through more news, interviews and documents than the average person would be able stand and, weighing all the evidence, they endorse out of a sense of professional and ethical duty to America. Endorsing is not something any outlet takes lightly. Endorsing is not at the whim of preserving the status quo for anyone on an editorial staff. Endorsing is not used for corporate gain.
I realize some of you don’t believe me, but that’s not how journalism — real journalism — works. Journalists have special privileges, yes, and with those privileges come responsibilities most people don’t want. It’s not a cake walk. It’s a constant state of admitting your bias and working to overcome it, of trying to decide what to leave in a news story and what isn’t germane to that particular story. A good journalist questions their motives and decisions; a great journalist always questions them. Yes, most outlets endorsed Hillary. Independently of one another, I’d wager.
Please don’t vote because of a single media endorsement.
Vote because of all of them.