Tag Archives: mainstream media

Media are ‘all Democrats, all liberals’? Eh?

Joseph DiGenova is sounding like a crackpot.

The former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia is a frequent contributor to the Fox News Channel, the conservative-leaning cable network that gives Donald Trump all the support it can muster.

DiGenova is right at home with the network.

Yet he goes on the air and declares there’s a “civil war” commencing in the United States. Then, in a fit of hilarious irony, he declares that the media are “all Democrat” and “all liberal.” He claims the media are hell bent on destroying Donald Trump and his presidency.

Do you see the irony?

DiGenova is a contributor to a key player in what conservatives like to call “the mainstream media.” Yep, I consider Fox to be part of the media “mainstream,” given the network’s popularity among a large segment of Americans.

So, why is DiGenova blathering about the media being “all Democrat”?

No, sir. They are not!

Trump escalates shameful war against media

Donald J. Trump’s shameful war against the media is proceeding  unabated.

He calls The New York Times the “true enemy of the people.”

Why? Because the Times is doing its job. It is reporting the news regarding the Trump administration. It is seeking to chronicle what the president knew about possible “collusion” with Russian government agents in 2016.

Throughout all the Twitter tirades that Trump has launched against the media, he never seeks to refute specific elements of the reporting that’s been published. He simply denigrates the work of professional journalists with epithets like “loser,” “fake news,” and of course, “enemy of the people.”

He told us he would be an “unconventional president.” That is one campaign pledge he has kept. He is unconventional in the extreme.

Trump has declared war against the media. No president in modern history — with the exception, perhaps, of Richard Nixon — has been so wrong about the media’s role as watchdog and their responsibility to hold government officials accountable.

Donald Trump keeps shaming himself and his high office.

Disgraceful.

Time of My Life, Part 22: Career ruined penmanship

These were the tools of my craft. They allowed me to chronicle the events and examine the people who made our communities tick.

They also contributed to the destruction of something that once gave me a source of pride: my penmanship.

My wife and I signed a whole lot of documents today while closing on the purchase of our new home in Princeton, Texas. Our daughter-in-law was there, too, and the title officer complimented her on her penmanship.

That was when I piped up and told her how my career ruined my own handwriting. “What did you do?” the title officer asked. I told her I was a journalist for nearly four decades.

You see, one of the challenges of doing what I did was to write fast and furious to make sure I got everything that was said or that I was able to record all the events I witnessed. Those events at times come and go quickly and you need to be alert to capture all the salient points that you might want to record as you report on them.

I interviewed plenty of men and women who were equipped with machine-gun mouths. They fired facts, figures, assorted data, cracked quips, made critical points in rapid-fire fashion. I had to capture them all.

So when you have to write quickly, well, you get my drift. One has no time to make sure you write capital letters as you were taught how to write them in the third and fourth grade. Yep, they used to teach that stuff in the old days. No longer.

I usually fared pretty well at report-card time. The teachers graded me highly on my penmanship.

Then I enrolled in college, studied journalism, embarked on my career and, as they say, the rest is history. My once-neat penmanship became history in the process.

I got into my share of beefs over the course of 37 years with the subjects of some of the reporting I did, and the commentary I offered. We’ve all heard about reporters’ notes being subpoenaed by courts when someone wanted to challenge the accuracy of what was reported. I never had my notes summoned.

Damn, I wish I could have had the pleasure of giving up my notes and then daring the lawyers and the judge to try to discern what I wrote.

Only I knew.

All that said, it certainly was a hoot trying to keep up with those events as they unfolded.

Time of My Life, Part 21: What goes around, comes around

It’s no secret that newspapers are cutting staff to maintain their profitability in the face of the changing media climate that has produced declining circulation and advertising revenue.

The Amarillo Globe-News in Texas is no exception — quite obviously! — to that trend. The G-N, indeed, managed to eliminate its entire photo staff over time, instructing the reporters it has left on staff to shoot their own pictures while covering events.

Well, guess what! That isn’t a new notion for some of us who got their start in small-town newspapering back in the day.

My reporting career began full-time in the spring of 1977. I got hired at the Oregon City (Ore.) Enterprise-Courier as a temporary sports writer; the sports editor, one of the very few women in the business, had taken maternity leave to give birth to her daughter. The editor of the paper needed someone to fill in. I applied; he hired me; then a position opened up on the news staff and I was allowed to stay after the sports editor returned from her leave.

Part of my job was to take pictures along with reporting on events I was covering. Football games? Basketball games? Wrestling matches? I packed my notebook and pen — and a camera! Then I became a general assignment news reporter, so I took my camera to city council, school board and county commission meetings. I had to take what we called “wild art” photos we would publish without a story accompanying them.

I knew how to report on those events and how to write about them in cogent manner. Photography was a brand new concept. I had to learn about “photo composition” and how to eliminated “dead space” in pictures.

That was just part of it. I also had to learn how to develop those pictures. Yes, we had dark rooms back then. They had basins filled with smelly chemicals into which we had to dump our film. Then we had to dry the film on lines strung across the dark room. Once the negatives were dry, we then had to print what we called “contact sheets,” which were “positive” reproductions of the images on the “negatives.”

Yes, those were days when reporting and writing also include plenty of picture-taking. We were well-rounded back then, just as reporters today are being asked to become more well-rounded now.

I hope the kids today have as much fun as I did back in the journalism “stone age.”

Trump vs. Bezos; Fake News vs. Real News

I am trying to wrap my arms around what I believe is one of the richest ironies I can find in today’s political discourse. Follow me for a moment.

Donald Trump despises Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon and the Washington Post. He has denigrated Bezos, bastardizing the mega-billionaire’s name by referring to him via Twitter as “Jeff Bozo.” He hates the reporting that comes from the Post, which to many of us is one of the premier newspapers in the world.

Bezos — reportedly the world’s richest human being — has filed a complaint against the National Enquirer, the world’s pre-eminent supermarket tabloid and purveyor of tawdry, juicy and occasionally defamatory gossip. The owner of the Enquirer also is a big-time friend and ally of Donald J. Trump. Bezos alleges that the Enquirer is blackmailing him by threatening to publish salacious pictures of the Amazon/media magnate with a woman who is not his wife.

The irony? Try this on for size: Trump hates what he calls “fake news,” which in reality is merely news that casts him and the presidency in a negative light. Donald Trump’s supporters stand with him, yet many of them — I will presume — continue to support the world’s No. 1 platform for “fake news” by purchasing the Enquirer from supermarket shelves while they are buying their groceries.

Donald Trump’s friendship with David Pecker — whose company AMI purchased the Enquirer in 1999 — has been in the news of late, given the tabloid’s involvement with the Stormy Daniels (the adult film actress) and Karen McDougal (the former Playboy model) stories involving the women’s alleged relationships with the future president of the United States . . . yep, Donald John Trump Sr.

“Fake news” or real news? Salacious gossip or quality journalism? Donald Trump or Jeff Bezos?

I believe the juxtaposition of it all is, well, more than just a little weird, don’t you think?

Time of My Life, Part 17: Revealing a little secret

I want to reveal a little secret about newspaper editorials, particularly those that “endorse” political candidates or issues.

I lost count a long time ago of the number of editorial endorsement interviews I conducted. Despite all the high-minded talk we used to offer about our motivations, our intent was to persuade readers to buy into whatever opinion we expressed.

I wrote editorials for three newspapers in my career that spanned more than 37 years. One in Oregon and two in Texas. I interviewed likely hundreds of candidates for public office. We always used to say on our opinion pages that our intent never was to persuade readers to adopt our view. To be candid, that was baloney!

Part of the fun I had writing editorials was helping lead the community we served. Whether Oregon City, Ore., or in Beaumont or Amarillo, Texas, we sought to provide a beacon for the community to follow. By definition, therefore, our intent was to persuade readers of our newspaper to accept that what we said was the truth as we saw it. If you did, then you would follow our lead.

Isn’t that a simple concept? Sure it is! It’s also one we avoided confronting head-on while we published editorials endorsing candidates or supporting issues that were placed on ballots.

I never was naïve to think that readers of our newspapers would be malleable creatures whose minds could be changed by what they read in the newspaper. But by golly, we never stopped trying to change minds.

We used to say publicly on our pages that we recognized and accepted that our readers were intelligent enough to make up their own mind and were able to cobble together rational reasons for the point of view they held. I’ll stand by that principle even though I no longer write for newspapers, but write only for myself.

I was having the time of my professional life interviewing those individuals, who came to us in search of our editorial endorsement or, if you’ll pardon the term, our blessing.

However, when you hear an opinion writer say with a straight face that he or she doesn’t intend to change anyone’s mind with an editorial, well . . . just try to stifle your laughter.

Repeating the same cliche I’ve been hearing

Good grief. I am now repeating the cliché I keep hearing from family and friends when the discussion turns to the fate and cloudy future of print media.

I have talked about the slow and inexorable demise of quality journalism at one of the newspapers where I once worked, the Amarillo Globe-News.

Then I get the response: It’s happening everywhere!

I guess they intend to make me feel better. It has the opposite effect. That response seems to diminish the agony my former colleagues and I felt while we watched the newspaper decline ever so slowly and steadily.

Now comes news of the death of a community newspaper, the Hereford Brand. Wouldn’t you know it? I am now saying the very thing I’ve been hearing: What’s occurring in Hereford is happening in small towns all across the United States of America.

It sickens me, man.

The social media have helped render newspapers — the products of quality journalism — increasingly irrelevant in people’s daily lives.

Who needs a newspaper when people have those phones in their pockets, or hitched to their belt, or tucked in their purses? They have 24/7 access to cable news shows, Internet sources and any manner of other outlets. They are bombarded with opinion, much of it unqualified. They form their world view on the basis of what pours into those phones or into their laptop or desk top computers.

The Brand will close up officially on Wednesday. Its publisher said declining circulation and advertising revenues have brought about this inevitable outcome.

And by golly, it ain’t unique to Hereford or Deaf Smith County or the Texas Panhandle. It’s happening in communities all across the land.

What’s more, every single one of them is poorer because of this relentless trend.

I am saddened beyond measure and I hate with a passion that I am being forced to acknowledge the sad truth that it’s happening everywhere.

Community journalism takes another gut punch

To those of you who aren’t familiar with the Texas Panhandle, this picture might not mean all that much to you.

Those of us who call the place home — or used to call it home — and worked in the field of print journalism, the photo speaks volumes.

It saddens me greatly.

The picture announces the closing of a community institution in a Texas Panhandle community that once relied on its local newspaper to chronicle its stories, to be the “first draft of history” in the town’s on-going evolution.

Hereford, Texas, sits about 30 miles southwest of Amarillo. The Brand has covered the community for 118 years. It’s going out of business. The owners of the paper cite declining circulation, declining advertising revenue and the unspoken issue of “declining relevance” in the lives of those who once read The Brand.

Man, this really stinks. It’s a continuation, I fear, of what is happening in rural communities all across the nation. The “Digital Age” is inflicting more casualties constantly on once-proud community institutions.

Even in Amarillo, where I worked for nearly 18 years, the Globe-News has vacated its historic location and moved into non-descript offices in a bank tower downtown. It has ceased printing the newspaper in Amarillo; that’s being done in Lubbock. It has hired a regional publisher, a regional executive editor, a regional “director of commentary” and a regional “distribution director.” The emphasis is now on centralizing its daily operations. The newsroom no longer employs photographers, its copy desk functions are being done out of a centralized operation center.

Do you get my drift?

Now this new age of “journalism” has claimed another victim.

The Texas Panhandle has a long and rich tradition of kick-a** journalism. The Amarillo Globe-Times once earned the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, for crying out loud! Communities scattered across the Panhandle’s spacious landscape have been served well by mom-and-pop newspapers that over time have morphed into “group ownership” organizations.

Those communities very soon will have one less newspaper among their ranks.

Sad days, indeed.

Happy Trails, Part 139: The fun has no end

I discovered something quickly not long after my career in print journalism came to a screeching halt.

It was that separation anxiety from work is vastly overrated. I also discovered — if you’ll pardon the cliché — that when one door slams shut in your face other doors open widely.

My career as a full-time editorial writer and editor ended on Aug. 31, 2012. I was the “victim” of a changing media landscape. My wife and I departed that very day on a vacation on the East Coast.

We returned a couple of weeks later and opportunity knocked. Amarillo College’s public TV station, KACV, called me with the opportunity. Would I like to write a blog for the Panhandle PBS web site? Of course I would! So I did for a little more than year.

I was given the task of writing on public affairs programming that aired on KACV-TV. They would post it on the web site. The idea was to call attention to programming that discussed news of the day, or on prevailing public issues.

That job lasted a while. Changes at the station brought changes in philosophy and management style. We parted company.

Then another media opportunity came along. My wife and I ran into the general manager of KFDA News Channel 10. He asked me: Why don’t you write for us? I wasn’t sure that was a serious query. I called him later and asked him, “Was that a serious question?” He said it was. We worked out a deal later in the year and I was given the chance to write about “Whatever happened to …” stories that News Channel 10 had covered. That series of features morphed into another series telling the stories of all those historical markers one sees along the highways of West Texas.

Again, I wrote those features for the station’s web site. The news anchors would call attention to the stories on the air and reporters would provide a two-minute summary of the story during the station’s even news broadcasts.

Eventually, that gig played itself out, too.

Then came another media-related opportunity. A longtime friend and a former colleague offered me a chance to earn some scratch working from home. Would I be willing to edit the copy of a reporter who worked for the Quay County Sun, a weekly newspaper in Tucumcari, N.M.? I could do it from my home in Amarillo. I then could proof-read pages as they were assembled by the young man in Quay County.

What a blast that turned out to be as well! However, that chapter closed eventually, too.

Retirement, thus, hasn’t always been what it has become for my wife and me most recently. I spend my time these days writing this blog and commenting on things such as this post and — quite naturally — on issues of the day.

We have settled into a new life in Collin County. It’s a quiet life these days, although the pace is going to pick up soon as we prepare to move into a new home we are purchasing in a more rural part of the county. We get to spend more time with our granddaughter and we get to come and go as we please. Of course, there’s also travel in our RV that we have enjoyed and will enjoy in the future.

But . . . there well might be another media opportunity knocking. I mean, it’s what I do. Who knows what’s in store?

‘Fair and balanced’? Sure thing

They call themselves the “Fox ‘News’ Channel.” It’s a conservative-leaning cable network that has purported to present the “news” in a “fair and balanced” manner.

Well, check out the caption under the TV image that flashed on the Fox “News” Channel. It parrots the epithet that Donald J. Trump has used to disparage U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who has just announced the formation of an exploratory committee to help her decide to run for president in 2020.

The “Pocahontas” label, of course, is Trump’s way of ridiculing Warren’s contention that she has some Native American blood in her background. The president has decided Warren’s claim is without merit, so he has hung that label on her.

Fox has glommed onto it as well.

Is that how one might define a mainstream “news” network’s “fair and balanced” coverage of a still-developing presidential campaign?

Imagine what political conservatives might think — and say — if CNN or MSNBC broadcast an image of Donald Trump with the caption that read “Cadet Bone Spur,” or “Liar in Chief,” or, well . . . you get the idea.

The Fox “News” Channel simply demonstrates yet again that it is neither “fair” or “balanced.” It serves instead as a de facto presidential mouthpiece.

Disgraceful.