Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welfare for the 4th Estate…

Seems Barack Obama wants to preserve the old line print media that was so supportive of his candidacy and of the Democrat agenda. In a world where advertisement revenue is the lifeblood of newspapers, declining revenue is causing many newspapers to die off. Levels of earnings are a levels not seen since the 1960’s and with the exorbitant legacy costs of pensions and health benefits added to the expenses of major daily papers, profits are virtually non-existent. Falling advertizing dollars are a trend that has been an on-ongoing issue 2006 when many businesses began limiting their expenditures on print ads in the beginning of the economic downturn. The competing mediums of television, radio and on-line advertising has also cut heavily into newspaper revenue.

Several well known papers have closed since 2007 such as the King County Journal, The Rocky Mountain News, Tucson Citizen, Baltimore Examiner and the Albuquerque Tribune have all gone the way of the dinosaur. While 43% of respondents to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in March, 2009, said that the loss of the local paper would hurt civil life significantly, only 33% said that they miss the paper should it no longer be available. One of the greatest challenges faced by newspapers is the fact that there are so few Generation Y readers. Pew Research found that just 27% of Generation Y – those born in 1977 or later – read a newspaper the previous day. That compares with 55% of those born prior to 1946.

In light of the growing atrophy of the print media in America, Barack Obama has said that he would be “happy to look at" bills Congress may propose that would give struggling news organs tax breaks if they were to restructure and become nonprofit businesses. A senate bill, S-673, has been introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). The so-called "Newspaper Revitalization Act,” would give news outlets tax deals if they restructure as 501(c)(3) corporations. This would in effect make the newspapers that restructure, state subsidized via the tax code.

It is very possible that Obama’s concern is actually an covert attempt to save his media base of support rather than support the print journalists for their own sakes or because they are so important to the health of the republic.

The alternative media is making vast inroads into the readership of local and regional print dailies. The so-called Blogosphere has become an important source of information and debate that has in effect begun replacing the Op-Ed pages of local daily papers. Websites like The Drudge Report, Breitbart Online and the online sites of news organizations like the FOX and other smaller news sites are winning greater popularity as they are constantly available via computer, PDA and cellular devices. They are also constantly updated, sometimes hourly when an event warrants.

The other great challenge faced by print and electronic media outlets is the issue of credibility. In the last two decades, the steady erosion of the so-called mainstream media has been notable. The amount of investigative journalism has fallen off in favor of politically correct reporting. Content geared to a younger demographic hungry for fluff and frivolity has trumped hard nosed, fact based reporting. News programs and newspapers are formatted to resemble magazine shows and gossip rags seen at supermarket check stands, have replaced the nightly news broadcast and the evening paper as sources for an ever shrinking viewing and subscribing public.
To demonstrate just how far the so-called mainstream media has fallen, the exposure of ACORN as a corrupt organization was accomplished not by a large, respected organ like the New York Times or one of the broadcast outlets. A twenty-five year old documentary film maker James O'Keefe and a 20 year old female journalism student, Hannah Giles, mounted a sting operation that would make the FBI proud. In a hidden camera expose' reminiscent of the type of reporting done in the old days of “60 Minutes”, they approached ACORN offices in 4 cities around the country and asked for help in setting up a home based business. This wouldn't normally be a bad thing, except the business in question was a brothel dedicated to the exploitation of children brought to this country from Central America for the sexual amusement of pedophiles. ACORN employees were anxious to help not only to get the couple a house but to help cheat the tax man and even get their under aged employees over the boarder from El Salvador via an underground railroad-like smuggling outfit that the San Diego ACORN operative claimed to have ties to in Mexico.

What was truly remarkable about the exposure of this corrupt organization was that the entire so-called mainstream news industry in this country, with the exception of the FOX network and a few websites like the Drudge Report and BigGovernment.com, virtually ignored the story. Only after a week of videos was aired on FOX and after the Blogosphere got a hold of the story and sprayed it all over cyberspace did the neutered media begin to react. Within a week, the Census Bureau cut its ties to ACORN and the Senate had voted to de-fund ACORN. A couple of days after that the House of Representatives voted to defund ACORN removing all government funding from that organization.

Where was the so-called mainstream media? Where was the New York Times? Where was the Washington Post? Where was the White House press corps? None of these organs asked questions about ACORN, the sitting Presidents favorite community organizing group. It makes a reasonable person ask the question; are the liberal members of the press covering for this corrupted agency in order to shield the President? Are they embarrassed that a popular and influential group like ACORN, so close to the sitting Presidents heart, has been shown to be an outfit that would be willing and able to assist in forming a child prostitution ring in 4 major cities in America? Or are they just embarrassed that two twenty-something’s showed them, the establishment media for what they are, lazy, ineffectual, and corrupted and inconsequential in the new age of the internet and the blogosphere.

In a recent interview, President Barack Obama said:
"I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding,"

Sounds like he is worried that he can’t control the media or message anymore...

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