Contrary to previous reports, Innocence and Naïveté are alive and they occupy a college campus in the form of a young lady college student majoring in Newspaper Editing.
Isn’t it amazing how these things turn up where you least expect to find them? Had I been looking for Innocence or Naïveté – which I wasn’t, because it was my understanding that they were brutally killed the day CNN aired its first broadcast – I would have looked to a four year old, or Forrest Gump. Or the President of the United States (Innocence and Naïveté are certainly one explanation).
The last place I would have checked was with a Newspaper-Editor-In-Training.
What can she be getting out of the program? Isn’t Newspaper-Editor-School where they teach the delights of eating broken glass? I was under the impression that Newspaper Editors were given entire courses in growing impressive moustaches, in which would get caught tiny pieces of reporters they chewed up and spat into the unemployment line. Although, from what I see in 1940s movies, they had to be careful not to set their moustaches afire with their cigars.
Not to say that women can’t be Newspaper Editors. Just that I’ve never seen one in a movie.
But according to the editorial I now clutch in my hot little hands, they are now letting optimists study to be Newspaper Editors.
There I was. I was just sitting there, killing time, but there were people about and time was screaming really loudly; so I turned to the college newspaper.
I read the college newspaper because it is slightly less insipid than the local grown-up version, and the college papers are free.
So I flipped to the editorial page, bypassing the ads for apartments, haircuts, and X-Mart (what more could any college student need?) when what to my wondering eyes should appear, an editorial by a woman who still believes in flying deer.
Let’s call her Shirley Temple.
It gets weird right there in the second paragraph, when Shirley offers up that she thinks newspapers will “Be around forever!” despite other available sources.
I am immediately confused, because I’ve grown up with journalists, and they are pretty well resigned to their fate. Many of them don’t even get the paper anymore.
The funny part comes in the third paragraph when she says she’s recently become “Slightly worried about my over-confidence.”
Then it gets even better. Someone in a class discussion mentions media bias.
Knowing Shirley Temple as we do, from her earlier paragraphs, we want to scream at her. We scream at her in much the same way we scream at Janet Leigh when she pulls over to the Bates motel. “Sleep in the car!” we usually cry.
But now we yell at Shirley, “No, No! Stop your ears! Don’t listen! After you hear about Journalistic Bias, you can never go back! Run, Shirley! RUN!”
But just like Janet, our Editor-In-Training can’t hear us, and we can’t save her from her dreadful fate. She gets in the shower.
“It seems as though my classmates think all media forms are biased, and blogs are the future of the news media…….” The shadowy figure with the knife draws nearer. “They cited specific newspapers they thought were biased…….” EEK! EEK! EEK! AHHH!
I’m temped to ask which biases her classmates pointed out to her.
The New York Times? (“This Just In! Bush Reincarnation of Hitler!)
The Weekly Standard? (“This Just In! Kennedy Clan Reincarnated Pharisees! Really! Evil Catholic Pharisees!”)
Parade? (“This Just In! Catherine Zeta-Jones Reincarnation of Audrey Hepburn!”)
In any case, our poor Shirley Temple is “Amazed and Shocked.” She’s been taught newspapers are supposed to be objective.
Reality Check 1: In the real world, there is a big difference between ‘supposed to be’ and ‘are’.
Reality Check 2: Even bigger distance between what you’ve been taught and what’s actually going on.
Shirley Temple goes on to say that “newspapers bring objective news” to people, “Who can then decide what to think. If the public then forms opinions, and if they decide to express thoughts about the news, they can write a letter to the editor.”
Now I get it! She’s calling for a return to the era of Media Barons! The paper brings you whatever damn news they deem fit to print, and if you don’t like it, write a letter no one will ever read. Exhume Hearst and Pulitzer, baby, ‘cause we are going, going, GONE back a full century.
Then Shirley Temple just gets insulting and snippy. (as opposed to becoming biting and satirical like me)
“I didn’t understand how my peers thought newspapers were subjective in their coverage, but thought blogs would be what people use in the future to get their news…Okay, blogs are not objective. Blogs are a way for anyone who knows how to work a computer to write his or her opinion and ‘publish’ it online.”
Ouch. She certainly earned her Liberal Elitist Reporter Wings!
First: The future is now. How you watched MSNBC lately? Because they seem to spend a great deal of time reading blogs on the air.
Second: Of course bloggers are not objective. But the cool part is that we tell you that upfront. If anything, we’re more honest reporters. Our sources are just as dubious, our rhetoric just as undeniable – and yet illogical – but we’re not pretending to be 100 % true-blue-honest-swear-to-God all the time.
Shirley Temple goes on to say that bloggers are “not credible” and “Wouldn’t you trust a reporter who quotes public officials in a story rather than a blog writer who is just throwing his or her opinion around on the internet just because he or she has a modem?”
Short answer: Hell no.
Ever heard of Dan Rather? If these times have taught us anything, it’s that nobody can be trusted, no matter how nice his hair is. But Shirley Temple hasn’t gotten that yet. She says that things would go unchecked if reporters didn’t catch them. (Because I personally plan to riot in the streets the second Bob Woodward gets out of my way.)
That we’d be “pissed” if nobody served as a governmental watchdog.
But nobody does. And you better believe I’m pissed about it. Anyone with the I.Q. of a sea cucumber is upset about it.
No one is being a ‘watchdog’ about anything, or forcing anyone to account for his actions, except Oprah, for God’s sake. What will become of us? Fox lies, CNN lies, the government lies, the New York Times lies, the Weekly Standard lies.
Which is why – here’s where Shirley dropped the ball, they’re supposed to teach this in journalism school – you triangulate your sources. You don’t believe something until you’ve heard it from several reliable sources, because it’s unlikely that they’re all going to tell the same lie. That’s a little out there, even for me.
And that is why you have three biased cable networks. That is why you watch the Daily Show and listen to Glenn Beck. That is why you have millions of blogs. Read the Times and Newsweek. Read other stuff, too. Between wildly slanted biases both ways, if you read everything, absorb everything, then you should get pretty close to the Truthiness of life (Yes, I watch Colbert, too).
But one word of advice: don’t read the college papers, because they haven’t got a clue.