The death of broadcast journalism

Yup, today marks the official death of television journalism. It’s not that we didn’t already know they were corporate driven entities, more concerned with profits and ratings and beautiful anchors and everything except, you know, reporting the truth. It’s just now the sham is there for everyone to see.

Oddly, I was thinking about this quite a bit over the weekend. I sat down to watch Robert Redford’s Lions For Lambs and felt a particular pang of sadness for Meryl Streep’s journalist. As she sat there thinking she was getting the scoop of a lifetime from Tom Cruise’s sleezy GOP Senator. And then it became clear he was using her to sell his point of view on the war. It is not uncommon in journalism. Press releases double as reporting, sources lie to advance their agenda and ambitious/lazy journalists are all too willing to oblige. This isn’t the case everywhere, mind you, just the trends of traditional media.

(By the way I was actually impressed with the movie. It’s not long on plot, but it is heavy on ideas. It will certainly lead to discussion about politics, the media, education and how they all tie in together. I was skeptical at first, but Redford managed to swing me around. It’s not a liberal movie about how “bad” the War on Terror is, but it does ask some interesting questions and supplies hardly an answer.)


First, the NYT has a story on the military analysts that get face time on televison. It is a damning piece of journalism, claiming that military analysts recieved preferential treatment from the Bush administration and the Pentagon in order to serve as puppets to advance a pro-White House agenda.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse ? an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.

Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

Again, this type of thing is not surprising given the culture surrounding broadcast “journalism,” however, what is surprising is the apparent scope of the propaganda efforts.


That of course, is offensive, on some many levels, but in a way far different from CNN’s downward slide into trashiness. I wish there was a word other than that, but there isn’t. First it was their lame attempt to compete with John Stewart and Stephen Colbert with a comedy show and now they are selling headline T-shirts. See a headline you like? Just click the little icon next to it and order your very own.

Andy from WAXY noticed you can hack the link and make up whatever slogan you want, which is leading to all kinds of craziness, especially over at Gawker.

So now T-shirts have become not just a money maker for CNN, but also another way for them to deliver news and further enforce the notion that it is not the truth or reporting that matters, it’s a clever ten word headline or whatever it is the government wants you to believe.? It’s time turn off the television.

Can’t wait to see what CafePress or Busted T’s does with this. [via]

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