Posted by: JDM..... | June 28, 2017

About Temperature Differentials.…

and Kitchens….

Big news! White House correspondent Brian Karem stuck out his lower lip and presented an in depth demonstration of the modern media’s whine quotient.

I had to read the brief article twice. Even then, and following some vigorous blinking, it was still there. I visualized the long-gone Paragons of Journalism rolling over in their graves, or better yet, just rolling their eyes and complaining “ You woke me up for THIS ?”

Karem accused the White House of “undermining the First Amendment,” among other things, on MSNBC’s “ Morning Joe.” At issue was Karem’s sense that the media was being unfairly picked upon and bullied. You can’t make this stuff up. Well, you could, but the White House might call you on it.

Rather than confront an egregious trespass, I believe Karem unwittingly reinforced the ongoing disintegration of the media’s generally positive aura. Not too many years ago, “the media” was visibly divided into three schools: At the bottom of the class structure was the “tabloid media,” bottom shelf newsstand fare and the stuff you pretended to not see while waiting your turn at the grocery store checkout.

Occupying the penthouse position were the long term Holy Grails of the print and broadcast media that had brought the world front line news from several wars, the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, a Presidential assassination, the first man to step onto the moon, and more. The lead players of this elite troupe are all retired now, or deceased.

In the middle was the vast majority of other media veterans and hopefuls who tried to emulate the standards set by the Holy Grails, and succeeded or failed to varying degrees. The result was that we knew what was considered quality journalism and what was not. One knew which door to enter.

That is not so true anymore. Perhaps the media is experiencing one of those abnormal accelerations in evolution or mutation, depending on one’s point of view, precipitated in most aspects of our culture today by the Technological Revolution. Suddenly, we communicate differently. New standards are not yet established, new boundaries have yet to be set, and the younger generations must decide what will be invited to become a part of the new Digital Era and what will be left behind.

Showmanship was a secondary concern with the traditional top tier, quality, accuracy, and immediacy being the meat and potatoes of the likes of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Kronkite, et al. This is the computer age, and new technologies enter our lives at breakneck speed, making the question of “immediacy” a non-issue. We now watch war on the front lines live on our phones, tablets, and office computers. New age journalists compete vigorously for position and popularity. Last but not least, from this consumer’s viewpoint, come quality and accuracy. Get your foot in the door and then figure out if you’ve got anything to sell or if you’re just going to hold the space and mark time with a stupid grin on your face until something comes along. Grammarians, linguists, and walking-talking encyclopedias no longer make the rules or call out the scores, those responsibilities having been taken over by statisticians and algorithms that count “hits.” It sometimes doesn’t seem to matter whether the target is a reincarnated sentence by Shakespeare or an “F bomb”; the one with the most hits is called “good”. The rest are out.

So, on the one hand, I can appreciate the frustration demonstrated by Mr. Karem, but I don’t see public pouting as the answer. I won’t even say “answer to the problem,” because I’m not sure it qualifies as a problem. Change is underway, and someone will decide its content and direction. That is a challenge, an opportunity, a circumstance, but it is not a “problem.”

Historically, it has been government entities that were more likely to register defensiveness under the penetrating stares of the men and women with pencil and pad in hand. To see those roles reversed is a little disconcerting. If the media is losing its status, it’s not because anybody stole it from them or eroded it, or bullied it away. The laws defining the sanctity of the press remain fully intact. If there is change afoot in the relationship between the media and those they wish to investigate, perhaps it is because they have been too busy comparing body noises and other preadolescent measures of relevance to mind the store.

It’s a new kitchen, but the old adage about bearing the heat or hitting the bricks still works.


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  1. Agreed, Toad, the world can use some adults about now.

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