I could not see to see
--I Heard a Fly Buzz, Emily Dickenson
I see trees of green........ red roses too
I see 'em bloom..... for me and for you
And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world
--What a Wonderful World, Thiele, Weiss, Douglas
In today's New York Times David Carr offers a mixed view on the state of the fourth estate ("Muckracking Pays, Just Not in Profit".) He says:
"(n)ewsrooms have been cutting foreign bureaus, Washington reporters and investigative capacity. Under this model, the newsroom is no longer the core purpose of media, it’s just overhead.
"At the same time, the consumer is feeling more empowered, with Google, Digg and all manner of RSS feeds pushing current data to their desktops. But Google and Digg never made a phone call, never asked hard questions of public officials, never got an innocent man out of jail.
"The smartest Web robot in the world is going to come back dumb if there is nothing out there to crawl across. Thousands of bloggers could type for a millennium and not come up with the kind of deeply reported story that freed innocent men. . ."
"There is a chance that historians will examine this period in American history and wonder if journalism left the field. With a lack of real-time annotation, wholesale business swindles and rogue actions by sitting governments will go uncovered."
He tries to wrap up on a dissonant cheery note, mentioning the Times' coverage of a New York detective who "might have perjured himself when he said he had not interrogated a murder suspect, a suspect who was recording him all the while on an MP3 player in his pocket." But that story was "covered" by the suspect with the recording MP3 device.
Mentioning Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the reins at The Wall Street Journal later this week, Carr asks, " If the future of news were really so grim, would Mr. Murdoch be interested?" Well, yeah -- Murdoch would jump on the grim reaper's bandwagon. Just because the Journal retains some fine reporters now doesn't guarantee Murdoch will maintain or exceed that quotient, at least not going on his past performance.
What's the take home? Don't be complacent, don't count on others to tell you what you need to know. The internet is a resource, not only a vast marketplace for bleary-eyed consumers of material goods in the wee hours.
Wire services run copy online. Share important but dry news -- talk about something more than Britney's pounds or the latest copycat mall shooters. Report what's happening in your burg, what you've seen and heard, and think.
I stopped watching the network morning or evening news a decade ago. With its high entertainment content and flashy graphics, it is a waste of a half-hour, or an hour. All celebrity, all vanity.
Hopefully we won't abdicate our responsibility as citizens to be aware and vigilant. If we do, we deserve to end up in a stupor before the nattering, blinkering lights, eating macaroni and cheese and stealing off for wired moments on Second Life. And they thought American Bandstand was bad.
What a virtual hell on Earth.