< .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm just sayin...

An interesting juxtaposition of business stories in today's New York Times, including a major piece on a prominent Boston company, really makes you think twice whether journalism is still in the business of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

The major takeout on how buyout firms are still raking in big cash -- while devastating private lives -- reminds you that even in this economic meltdown there are huge profits to be made, for the select few.

But several other stories make you wonder whether, overall, journalists are indeed in touch with what's really going on in America. It raises the all-too-uncomfortable question of whether there is a bias of class, not politics, that can blind reporters and editors.

Let's start with one (of many) that got away. A year after the fact, an inspector general is telling us that Henry Paulson and his pals at Treasury didn't tell the truth about the state of the nation's banking system.

I know we were fighting a financial panic, but where was the critical reporting then? Focusing on the political handicapping of the bad news gushing from Wall Street no doubt.

But that's a relatively tame issue compared to a couple of stories that reflect the large gap between the journalism "elite" and the rest of us.

Witness this Project for Excellence in Journalism report that found Wall Street and a small handful of story lines got the lion's share of the attention from financial journalists -- while the travails of workers at companies like Simmons got the short end of the stick. And when the market went up, the media turned its attention elsewhere.

Or more damning still, that the process of big corporate bonuses getting paid out while people were getting laid off was happening right under journalists' very noses.

I've never been one to buy the right's phony clap-trap about liberal bias. But these reports suggest a blind spot based on class: stock market rises, crisis ends. They also reflect an unusual lack of curiosity about something far more important to the national debate than which politician (or entertainer) is sleeping with who.

At least we've seen millions of words written (with no effect) about the bonuses handed out to AIG, Merrill and the robber barons who stripped the copper plumbing of this society. Why not a peep about Sam Zell's rape of the Tribune Co.? Afraid to be accused of navel-gazing?

Or is because we have to leave room for the birthers, tea baggers, town hall shouters -- who are about as accurate reflection of the real America as the folks who are covering them.

Maybe some good can come out of the meltdown that has also done serious damage to journalism. The birth of hyperlocal coverage is a start. But journalism needs to get back to the roots of the business and how it deals with comfort and affliction.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home