Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I dreamed there was no more Faux News...

I grew up (literally) in a newsroom. My father was a newspaperman, back in the day when they actually reported the news. Before newspapers were wrecked by MBA's. These guys were an aggressive, surly,  focused-on-the-facts group who seemed irritable more often than not (not to be sexist, but back then, it was mostly guys; the majority of  women at the newspaper handled the society pages...and were really boring...kind of like the Junior League glued to typewriters)
Anyway...you know how some parents park their kids in front of the TV as a babysitter? When I got to go to work with my dad,(always on weekends or holidays when the paper had a skeleton crew and my mother wanted me out of the house) he'd  use the wire service as the babysitter. I was barely old enough to read when he'd park me  in front of a monstrously noisy teletype machine, calling out over his shoulder to  "keep an eye on the AP (or maybe it was UPI) service"  for him, as he'd disappear through the swinging double doors into the 'back shop'. That's where all the good stuff was going on, banks of compositors with editors over their shoulders, marking up, cutting, pasting, chain-smoking and swearing.  Of course the bit about keeping an eye on the stories coming off the wire service was  bullshit...at that age I could probably recognize only one of every three words that flew off those automated keys, as the stories would  keep coming and the roll of paper would grow before my eyes until it unwound on the floor at my feet. Sometimes (if it was after the composing close...we were an afternoon paper, so I knew I couldn't go through those double doors until after 1:00 PM) I'd peek into the back shop and yell to him some of the words I could recognize- as if I was really passing on something of value. I'd shout out  that something was WASHINGTON or NEW YORK or POLICE or KILLING, and wait until he'd come back and pretend to peruse what I'd alerted him to.
What was addictive to me, even back then, was the idea that stuff just kept happening, out there in the world, and my father and his buddies (who cussed so much and always seemed so tense until after the deadline) were doing important work that made it possible to open a newspaper and read about what was going on in the world.
Years later, I was much older, when he had moved from city editor to investigative reporter, I became aware of how much was involved in gathering information, and fact finding. It was a different world back then. No one printed allegations. No one would go with a story unless there were at least two independent sources that were willing to go on the  record. Every time his byline was printed under a series or story, his reputation was on the line. Heaven knows, he didn't earn a great deal, so it was never a paycheck that he stressed over, it was his reputation. That's what caused him to check and recheck facts, to question the integrity of his sources and to make sure he got things right.
At home, we watched the Bill Shadel, Walter Cronkite and the Huntley-Brinkley Report (that's all there was) each night, so he could compare the network reporting, then we'd discuss current events as a  family, so he could make sure we knew what was going on. Not knowing was an unforgivable sin. Not caring was worse.
My father died almost 20 years ago, and in many ways, I'm glad he never lived to see how news organizations have become extensions of  corporate America- or worse, Faux News.
The recent scandals of Rupert Murdock and the subsequent opinions about his potential downfall, including the speculation that the fallout may be so great it could even damage Fox has allowed me to dream...what if...
What if there was no Faux News? What if those lazy fools who rely on the lies that Faux spews daily didn't have them supplying the endless fountain of drivel? What if they actually had to make an effort to READ and UNDERSTAND current events without a rabid, ranting talking head telling them who to hate?
I know...it would be like lopping the tail off a lizard...they'll just grow a new one. Those folks out there who care little for facts will always care little for facts...they'll just click on Brietbart or tune in Rush or some other 'personality' who has a lax relationship with the truth.
It doesn't seem like an accident...the correlation between Faux News' growth in viewership and the dumbing down of the population. It would be a tremendous public service, and benefit to the country if they just went away. I don't think it will happen, either-
But...a girl can dream, can't she?


  1. Yes she can!

    That was a really good story. And what makes it so good is that it's first hand and accurately describes what it was like and where we went.

    It must have been fun to have grown up in that environment.

    Thanks SKIP2.

  2. Thank you for that, One Fly! My old man would have loved your stuff...he started his career as a wire photographer for AP in NYC...never lost his appreciation for good pix or the talents of a wordsmith!