Poked up a piece in Eli's thread at Firedoglake today on the profound problems in media/news reporting, all of which relate to a previous post here and the tonight edition of Frontline. What I am calling for is less criticism of what is wrong, or praise for this or that alternative you find helpful, -- we all know that score -- and more about how to go about change and reform.
The reform I invision is one where distribution of media (TV Stations, local Press) are all owned by local foundations that are representative of the community, and all are non-profit. I invision a FCC regulated Fairness Doctrine that really is a "diversity" doctrine -- not just the other side of the story, but all sides of a story. Remember, Fairness got removed because the United Church of Christ and others like the Quakers, relieved some southern stations (mostly in Mississippi) of their licenses because of Racism -- and it was essentially shit thrown back when Reagan changed the doctrine. No one really tells the Fairness Doctrine story accurately.
Obviously I liked the Frontline piece tonight -- 3rd in the series. In my post at FDL, I forgot to mention the St. Petersburg Times which sends its profits, (and it makes some) to the Poynter Institute which tries to do a great job. So along with The Nation, The Guardian and The Observer, it is non-profit, and doing the "lord's" work.
But our problem is how to create a favorable financial climate so that other major papers and TV local stations will just turn over ownership and control to local foundations dedicated to quality journalism, and moving forward the next Edward R. Murrow or whoever.
The Biography of Murrow is of some interest in this context, largely because his supposed claim to fame is the McCarthy shows or Harvest of Shame. Good Lord it is so much deeper than that. Murrow was initially hired by CBS Radio to produce "Talks" -- fifteen minute pieces mostly by refugees from Nazi Germany, about the evils of the Nazi system and all. Paley essentially bought the effort that the Institute of International Education and the American Student Union had created, and which had managed to re-settle more than 600 German Academic Enemies of the State into American Academic slots, when he hired Murrow, and sent him off to head up CBS's effort to report the rise of Hitler and the war. When Murrow did his radio show about Buchenwald, April 13, 1945, one needs to remember that the guide who showed him about was someone on his list for rescue that did not get processed, a Czech Medical Professor who did 6 years in Buchenwald, and that there were another thousand plus Academics on that list Murrow had been working when he went to CBS in the mid 30's. The key to understanding Murrow -- and many other early reporters is to understand that they had involvements in reality that really hurt. But I don't criticize Murrow -- he knew the score and did what he could to push the US into WWII for the right reasons. In the end, he managed. Murrow was press -- and the night of Pearl Harbor he was seated in FDR's anti-room waiting for a meeting, though the reason he was there had to do with Eleanor having invited him and Janet for Scrambled Egg Supper a bit earlier. Eventually FDR invited him in for beer and ham sandwiches, and a briefing to end all briefings. Morrow never reported any of it, but it informed much of what he did report.
Our problem is how Murrow came to be. He was a compromise candidate for office of a national student organization, (Berkely did not agree with UCLA and Murrow was from a lowly state college in Washington State.) and part of the job was dealing with education ministeries in Europe that dealt with International Student Exchanges in the very early 1930's.
Creating more Murrow's is about comprehending things other than Ivy League connections, I think. What really bothers me as someone who worked in Peace Corps Administrative Offices when they were first putting Afghanistan into training and then sending them off in 1963, is why so few of them show up telling us about their little region, what they learned given two years in a particular area. Yep, on their own message boards they say a little -- but I want much more.
But I think therein lies the secret to how the blog world gets reporters, people who have been Peace Corps, people who have been exchange students, people who have observed first hand, and who can report under a nice fake name, but who also comprehend that they will be taken apart by bloggers who have alternative analysis.