Tag Archives: mainstream media

Journalists get some love … finally

You know how I feel about journalists and the craft they pursue with joy and passion; after all, I am one of them, even though I no longer do it “for a living.”

Watching the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last night, with all of its attendant silliness, insults, self-deprecation and happy talk leading up to the event, I was filled with pride to hear the president of the United States speak well of the work they do on our behalf.

President Biden understands — at least he says so publicly, which is enough for me — that the media deserve the constitutional protection granted them by the nation’s founders. Think of that. A “free press” is the only private enterprise guaranteed by the nation’s governing document.

The dinner took a few moments to salute those among the media who have died in service to the public. They have been taken by the war machines that grind on throughout the world.

The media have become the bogeymen and women of contemporary society. We have heard a former president label the press the “enemy of the people” and have witnessed the ex-POTUS’s followers threaten members of the media who are doing their job.

We didn’t hear that from the head table at the WH Correspondents’ Dinner. Instead, we heard the media receive the recognition they have deserved since the founding of our great nation.

I want to express my sincere thanks and gratitude for the praise that came into my living room. I never was a member of the White House press corps. I have plenty of colleagues, acquaintances and actual friends who have served near that nerve center. I stand with them with them in awe for the work they have done and continue to do.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Newspapers still provide value

I want to take a moment to sing the praises of newspapers, which to my way of thinking still provide enormous value to the communities they serve.

First, I need to provide full disclosure.

I once was a full-time print journalist; my full-time career ended in August 2012. I now am a part-timer, a freelance reporter for a weekly newspaper in Collin County, Texas.

OK, are we clear now about my bias in favor of newspapers? Good! I shall proceed.

Newspaper reporters have been called many names by politicians and other public officials over many centuries. They incur public figures’ wrath primarily for telling the public the truth about how those public figures are doing their jobs. Public officials, whether elected politicians or career bureaucrats, have been embarrassed because newspaper reporters have uncovered misbehavior or, at times, illegal behavior.

Many local newspapers are continuing on that mission to hold public officials accountable to, um, the public. I salute them always because I appreciate what they do. I also know the difficulty they face in pursuing the truth on behalf of the public.

Granted, there are fewer of them today doing that job than, say, 10 or 20 years ago. Newspapers are suffering from the changing media climate. Fewer people depend on newspapers to tell them what is happening in their community. They rely instead on social media and — gulp! — the Internet.

I subscribe to two weekly newspapers and a daily newspaper; although the daily paper, the Dallas Morning News, comes to my home only twice each week — on Wednesday and Sunday. My print subscription enables me to read the rest of the week’s editions online. The weekly papers are the Princeton Herald (in the city where I live) and the Farmersville Times (the paper for which I work).

I will read newspapers for as long as I am able to read, which I hope will be a good while longer while I still walk this good Earth.

The men and women who report the news do so without the kind of evil intent that too many politicians — and those who follow them — ascribe to them. They report the news clearly and they tell us our communities’ stories.

There is tremendous value in all of that. Even when it embarrasses those who get paid with money generated from my tax bill.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Good journalism still exists

I keep seeing these references to the “good old days” of journalism, when TV news anchors — Walter Cronkite is the one most commonly referenced — would “read the news” with an “agenda.”

Well, allow me this brief retort. Those “good old days” need not be dredged up and remembered with overdue, overstated and overinflated reverence.

There still is plenty of good broadcast journalism, along with print journalism, being practiced.

Many of my friends and former colleagues know that to be true. Some of them, though, lapse into that hyper-sentimentalism in which they recall how it used to be.

I admit these days to watching a lot of broadcast and cable news. The broadcast news still is presented by individuals who do so with professionalism and without the “agenda” that so many accuse the media of presenting.

The three major commercial broadcast networks continue to feature individuals who follow the Cronkite model brought up so often these days; I also will include PBS, the public TV network, as well among the organizations that present news without favor toward one side or the other.

The far right — led by the most recent ex-president — have poisoned the debate. Donald Trump has labeled the media the “enemy of the people” and the purveyors of “fake news.” Sadly and tragically, too many Americans swallowed that rhetorical snake oil. I know that cable news has produced a ton of right- and left-wing commentators and “contributors.”

However, I am going to stand with my brothers and sisters in the media and will continue to salute them for the work they do to tell the stories of our communities and our world.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Extinction looms

It’s strange to see myself in this fashion, but I am going to face a harsh reality. I worked in a profession that is fading ever so steadily into what we often call the “dustbin of history.”

I was a print journalist for nearly 37 years. I wrote news stories and then opinion pieces for newspapers in Oregon and Texas. Then my days as a full-timer ended almost a decade ago. I am back at it these days as a freelance reporter for a weekly newspaper, the Farmersville Times, in Collin County, Texas; I also write feature stories for the public radio station over yonder in Hunt County, at KETR-FM, which is affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. For the record … I am having the time of my life.

My wife and I were walking through our neighborhood today and as we walked past the school nearby, I recalled returning in 1983 to the grade school I attended in Portland. My fifth-grade shop teacher, John Eide, invited me to participate in a “career day” event at the school. I accepted the invitation gladly and spoke to youngsters at Harvey W. Scott Elementary School about the joy of pursuing a craft I loved.

I had been at it for about seven years at that point. I was still pretty new to journalism, but I loved my job and looked forward to the career I would enjoy. The next 30 years were filled with loads of fun, excitement and hard work. I am proud of the career I built.

I am wondering, though: Do they still have career days and if so, do they invite newspaper reporters to speak to aspiring youngsters about how to pursue a career in journalism?

If they do, what do today’s journalists tell these future reporters? My hunch would be they would tell them to keep their powder dry if they intend to work for newspapers (if the students even know what a newspaper is these days). 

Will my granddaughter, who’s now 9 years old, know about what Grandpa did for a living? I will look forward one day to explaining it to her. I fear there might not be anyone still doing precisely the work that gave me so much joy and fulfillment.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

‘Enemy of people?’ Hardly!

Let’s take a brief moment — shall we? — to ponder the stupid utterance of a former U.S. president who declared on more than one occasion that the media and those who work for them are “the enemy of the American people.”

OK. Now, let’s juxtapose that stupidity with what we’re hearing from the battlefield in Ukraine.

We are hearing of casualties being inflicted among journalists who are covering that battle between Ukrainian forces and those from Russia who have invaded their country.

A Fox News Channel reporter is hospitalized after being wounded seriously in an attack that killed one of the producers from that network. Journalists from other news-gathering organizations have been wounded and killed while covering the war for their readers, viewers and listeners back home … where “home” might be.

The former president is fond of hammering the media for purportedly producing “fake news,” never mind that he also produces fake news simply through his own stupidity, his own lying.

Journalists who thrust themselves into harm’s way to cover world events — regardless of the danger they pose to those who get too close to the action — are heroes. Their only “enemy” rests in the hearts and minds who deny — or denigrate — the value they bring to a civilized society.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Defending the media

I cannot let go of the idiotic pronouncement that the “media are the enemy of the people.” I know I have commented on this already, but I want to lay one more thought on it for you … then I’ll move on — until the next time.

The idiocy came from Donald J. Trump. He keeps to this very day suggesting that the media peddle “fake news.” His cult followers have bought into it. I am actually acquainted with some of them in Texas, although my acquaintance is distant, through social media and so forth.

What I want to say once more with all the emphasis I can muster is that those who toil for media outlets do so out of their desire to tell the truth. And to make a difference. And to fulfill the unwritten — but clearly understood — tenets of good journalism: It is to be accurate and to treat all sides to an issue with fairness.

My days as a full-time print journalist are behind me now. I still am working on a freelance basis for two media outlets: a weekly newspaper in Collin County and a public radio station in Commerce, over yonder in Hunt County.

I can speak only for myself, but my story is identical to those still in the business of telling their communities’ stories. We do it out of love and respect for the communities we serve. I am one journalist who never during my whole time pursuing my craft deliberately told a falsehood in my reporting or in a commentary I wrote while I was writing for and editing opinion pages.

For those who suggest the media are peddling fake news, they insult all of us who love our craft to our core.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

‘Truth in journalism’ still exists

Truth in journalism,” once a reporter’s credo, is now a relic of a bygone era.

Right there is a nugget of, um, faux wisdom from someone who has swilled the “fake news” Kool-Aid that Donald J. Trump and his cabal of kooks keep spreading about those of us who practice — or who have practiced — what I consider to be among the noblest of crafts.

“Truth in journalism” is alive and well. I am proud of the craft I pursued for nearly four decades and which I still am pursuing, albeit on a part-time freelance basis. I don’t comment on the issues I cover for a weekly newspaper in Collin County, Texas; I save my commentary for this blog, given that commentary and straight news reporting are different species altogether. More on that in a moment.

What was introduced into mainstream debate as a preposterous assertion by the former POTUS has become a sort of code for those who continue to buy into his lies, deception and hypocrisy. “The media are the enemy of the American people,” Trump continues to bellow, even though he no longer is president and — as I am hoping — never will be again.

The media are no one’s enemy. The media are full of dedicated professionals who do their job without prejudice or favor. They report the news and it then becomes up to the public to consume that news and make their own judgments on the accuracy and fairness of what they are consuming.

Too many of us, though, rely solely on those who don’t report the news, but who comment on it, providing their own spin on the same information that goes into the hearts and minds of everyone.

The individual who provided that nugget I delivered at the top of this blog post seems to be one of those types. This person has ingested the Donald Trump view that the media are the enemy, not to be trusted but to be hated. That saddens me greatly, because this person is far from alone in that view.

This individual is part of a society that has thrown aside information it receives from those who report the news with accuracy and fairness; this person relies on those who present their opinion on issues that comport with their own world view.

This person does not know — or has forgotten — the difference between news reporting and commentary.

Who, then, is the real “enemy of the people,” those who report the news or those who misconstrue it?

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Test of rehabilitated skill

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Time for an acknowledgment.

I have told more than one person since I began work as a freelance reporter for a weekly North Texas newspaper that I have gone back to my roots. I am covering city council meetings, school board meetings and writing occasional features for the Farmersville Times.

After spending most of my career — spanning nearly 37 years — writing and editing opinion commentary, I entered this gig knowing I could write news stories straight away, checking my bias at the proverbial door. Just stick to the who, what, when, where and why stuff … you know?

My reliance on that skill was put to a test today. I passed it with flying colors, but I was a bit concerned going in to cover the story.

It was a town hall meeting hosted in Rockwall, Texas, by U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon, a Sherman Republican and a self-proclaimed “strong conservative.” I was concerned he would fly off the rails so badly that I couldn’t restrain myself, that I would have to offer some sort of “commentary” in describing what I saw.

You know what? It didn’t happen. Sure, Fallon spouted his conservative mantra about foreign policy, about the 45th POTUS and how great he is. He denigrated Democrats and specifically House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

None of it bothered me. The only that drew an audible response from me (which no one heard) was when he reported that the “mainstream media” didn’t report something to the public. Oh yes. It most certainly did.

I wrote the story and turned it in to my boss.

That all said, I am proud to declare that the story doesn’t contain a hint of bias.

I am proud of myself. Just thought I’d brag a little.

Time of My Life, Part 54: Technology advances

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My 8-year-old granddaughter might not know what to call this device. You know what it is. I surely do.

I started work at my first full-time reporting job in Oregon City, Ore., in the spring of 1977. Our suburban afternoon daily newspaper still operated with these gadgets.

Indeed, my favorite moment of a day publishing our newspaper occurred around noon when every one of our staff of six reporters was pounding away on their manual typewriters. I was named editor of that little — and now defunct — newspaper a couple of years after arriving there. I used to stand aside while watching the staff work feverishly to get the copy turned in on time.

We finally advanced to desk top devices that allowed us to type our copy onto floppy disks. The newsroom got significantly quieter at deadline time.

I moved in 1984 to a much larger newspaper in Beaumont, Texas, which had a significantly more advanced computer system. I stayed there nearly 11 years while the newspaper improved its publishing system along the way.

In 1995, I gravitated to my final stop in daily print journalism, moving to Amarillo, Texas, which had a publishing system named after the corporate owners: the Morris Publishing System. It was crappy. Morris Communications ditched that system to something much more workable.

My daily print career ended in the summer of 2012.

This is my way of chronicling all the changes I endured during nearly four decades in journalism. Typewriters to floppy disks to main frame computers to PCs. Now they’re taking pictures with smart phones in the field; they’re using Twitter, Instagram and assorted other media platforms to transmit the news.

It makes my head spin. Then again, my head spun plenty of times as I made my way through a craft I loved pursuing.

Today, I feel a bit like a dinosaur. I just don’t want to become extinct.

Journalism takes another step toward irrelevance

It pains me to acknowledge this, but based on what I have just learned, daily print journalism — I am talking about newspapers — has taken another big step toward a dark hole of irrelevance.

The Providence Journal, Rhode Island’s largest newspaper, has announced it no longer will publish editorials. You know, those are the opinion pieces that represent the newspaper’s view on issues of the day.

Here is part of a letter that Journal executive editor Alan Rosenberg wrote to readers:

It’s a decision that we don’t make lightly. But it’s been coming for a long time…

[After the partisan newspapers of the 19th century,] most newspapers abandoned partisanship in their news pages, but kept the idea that they should speak out, in their editorials, on what they perceived as the best interests of their community and country.

But in doing so, they inadvertently undermined readers’ perception of a newspaper’s core mission: to report the news fairly. Our goal in news stories is always to learn, and reflect, the facts of a situation, then report them without bias. Reporters’ opinions, if they have them, have no place in our stories.

But when the newspaper itself expresses opinions on those same subjects, it causes understandable confusion. Readers wonder: Can reporters really do their work without trying to reflect the views expressed in their employers’ name? Can they cast a skeptical eye on a politician their paper has endorsed, or a generous eye on one it has opposed?

The answer is a definite “yes” — but my email since I became executive editor shows that many just don’t buy it.

The Providence Journal is owned by Gannett Corp. What we have here is a display in gutlessness. It is a shameful capitulation to the forces that are slowly but inexorably making daily newspapers irrelevant in the lives of thinking Americans.

I spent the vast bulk of my 36 years in journalism writing editorials and editing opinion pages. We once were committed to providing leadership to communities that used to look for some semblance of guidance from their newspapers. Sure, we had that argument with readers that Rosenberg mentioned about whether news coverage was influenced by newspapers’ editorial policy.

This news out of Providence, R.I., saddens me terribly. It well might get even worse for readers of the last newspaper where I worked on my professional journey, the Amarillo Globe-News. Gannett owns the Globe-News and Gannett has become a cost-cutting master in this era of declining subscribership and advertising.

I hate saying it … but I fear the end of daily journalism in Amarillo, Texas, might be at hand.