I WENT TO THIS PANEL IN 2009 AND IT SUCKED THEN TOO.
There is a coordinated campaign to get people to distrust the press, it is being run by one political party for that party’s supporters’ express financial benefit through one major cable news network, this has been true for 30 years, but surely if we explain ourselves just ONE MORE TIME, people will love us again!
Jesus H. Christ with a side of sweet potato fries, I’m exhausted. For 30-plus years, Fox News has been blaring from every airport gate in every city in this country and a few overseas that every other news source is liberally biased and only THEY report and we decide. Only THEY are unbiased. Only THEY will tell you the truth. And you know what, for the critical 35 or so percent of the country that the GOP needs to stay in gerrymandered and destructive power, it’s fucking WORKED.
In the face of that assault, we have the journalism establishment, dithering at 8-foot tables about how maybe readers just don’t understand, maybe they just independently came to these conclusions:
What happened between 1989 and 1996, remind me, I forget, was it this?
But sure, let’s keep talking about this stuff like it’s the weather, like it just HAPPENED.
Maybe if we sincerely correct people angry at us, with the best of intentions, and show them how pure our hearts are OH FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK. I’m not excusing anyone ELSE’S malpractice (looking at you, CNN). I’m certainly not letting corporate consolidation and frantic flailing at every single industry trend in an effort to keep making enough money to hide the sexual harassment lawsuit payouts off the hook.
What I take issue with is the idea that there’s some kind of genuine ignorance, some kind of benign disconnect that can be remedied by yet another explanation of who we are why what we do matters.
We’re having a lot of dumb conversations with the Institute for Being Stuck Up Our Own Asses about What The Future Holds and Our Existential Threat and until we deal with the literal Fox in our henhouse those overall numbers of how many people loathe us are not going to get better or change.
We have spent eons justifying our existence. We have spent EPOCHS explaining why we do what we do. And not for nothing but we have spent 30 years being friendly with people who hate us. We have spent 30 years pretending they’re just joking, pretending their inflated sales numbers mean we have to pay attention to what they say, and in response we got “Rope, Tree, Journalist” and “peanuts for the animals” and “fake news.”
WHILE we were doing this we set generational brand loyalty on fire by systematically divesting from communities we’d covered for decades, where trust had been built and at least if people thought we were fuckers we were their fuckers, you know?
So now we come at them with the idea that somehow they don’t understand? They understand just fine. One “news” organization is coming at them from every television in every waiting room in every tire shop in the country, coming at them telling them things are life and death and WE ARE ALL THAT IS STANDING BETWEEN YOU AND DESTRUCTION. One network is relentlessly pushing itself in their faces with, where not outright fascism, authoritarian visions of the world around them which are basically heroin.
And in response we’re gonna plead poverty, beg them to subscribe, and EXPLAIN OURSELVES?
No. No way.
To its credit, the journalism summit referenced in the tweet that set me off down this YOU HAVE TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME path did include people doing the very hard work of building something from scratch to address potential news consumers who nobody has ever given a single fuck about, which is why this is the only way forward.
That’s a start. The whole other part of this includes a series of very well-catered events (since that’s apparently where most of our Big Thinking About Journalism happens) detailing once and for all who is Journalism’s Friend. And how to respond to the people who aren’t, who have never been, and how it doesn’t matter if they’re nice to you at parties, if they go on the air the next day and call you biased liars.
Also, knock this the fucking fuck off: