the power of the word

March 23, 2004 — Leave a comment

i straddle a very fragile line, i believe. i`ve worked as a writer for more than one newspaper and i`ve provided advertising content. so i have an interesting perspective of the newspaper business.

it is a fragile line. 60% of an cosmopolitan newspaper is advertising and that`s a reasonable figure, in some markets it runs probably close to 75% and yes i`m pulling these figures off the top of my head, but open a newspaper and take a look at the ratio of advertising to editorial content.

the ratio is not a problem per se, newspapers cost a lot to print, as a self publisher, i know this fact first hand. the problems arise when with the threat of lost of revenue, management makes editorial decisions. this is not a two way street. it`s rare that the editorial department can refuse an ad, hell the editorial department doesn`t even know what ads are running. however if the story is big enough or controversial enough it will have to be vetted by the legal department and almost that will flag some management functionary who is more than likely to have the power to kill the story.

and as i`m observing here, press freedoms are slowly being eroded. and yes, i can say that, i come from a country ranked 5th for world press freedom. we may have managerial interference, but no political interference. most of the mainstream news sources here seem incapable or unwilling to report anything that will affect their bottom line or doesn`t sound like a government press release. fair and unbiased in the media are as quaint a concept as truth and justice is in government.

which in a roundabout way brings me to my point.

in this age of pseudo-journalists and propaganda and entertainment, masquerading as news programming in the electronic media, there was some hope for the stalwarts in print, but within the last year, there as been debacle after debacle of plagiarism, misrepresentation and downright fabrication from the bastions of our print media, well bastions is a strong word, but this was the last strong hold of what was good and true about journalism. the reporter following their story, not for glory but for the truth.

what irritates me even more about this is, instead of hiding in a corner or dying of shame and embarrassment, these, words escape me at the moment, have book deals and movies glorifying their wrongdoings. now there is another.

what sort of example are we setting? pretty soon journalism is going to become soley, the domain of alcholics, criminals and junkies. wait it already is. but some of the best and brightest have been flawed but they still upheld that basic principle: the truth must be told. the people of that era are dead and dying and all we`re left with are corporate lackeys disguised as editors, writers and english majors marking time in the media waiting for that  big book deal, cushy advertising or pr job. there is no commitment to the field, no driving need to present the truth in a fair and unbiased manner.

the fourth estate is dying being destroyed from within and without. choked by greed and the cancer of fast fame and fortune and there doesn`t seem to be anyway to save it.

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