Tags: journalist

'Ism' Is What's Left in Journalism

Wednesday, 07 May 2008 09:48 AM

Many who profess journalism don’t seem to get it. Why are they not admired, loved, even liked? Rodney Dangerfield and used-car dealers get more respect.

Tolerated maybe? Only to an extent. Outside their own ranks of contracting, concentric circles, they are not famously sought after as boon companions. Not altogether the kind of folks you’d enjoy having over for drinks and dinner.

Mothers no longer pine for their sons to be journalists when they grow up. Fathers don’t exactly relish the thought of their daughters’ marrying one.

Everyone agrees nurses and teachers are underpaid. Impecunious though most journalists are, you rarely see their readers or listeners filling the plazas, waving placards and demanding higher pay for the oppressed wretches of journalism.

Before the original concept of journalism completely wanders off into the dusk, it might be worth recalling that it was once highly revered. Thanks to the shabby ways in which journalism has been malpracticed in the past half-century or so, the connotation of journalism has sagged shamefully.

Why is this?

To answer that, you need to dredge up where that alleged profession got its name. It’s from the French, which isn’t necessarily an embarrassment. Jour is French for day. A journal was the record of what happened yesterday, not of what the writer thought should have happened.

That was never good enough for journalists-come-lately. Besides its being hard work, keeping an accurate, factual account of what in the world was going on wasn’t fun enough.

Enter opinion journalism. Nothing wrong with recording what other folks were opining, but that wasn’t ego-satisfying enough, either.

Enter personal-opinion journalism. The most-popular word in journalism became the first-person singular pronoun. “It’s all about me.”

No big crime. Newspapers, magazines, then radio and television programs, could always find room for “opinion stuff.”

Still not good enough, though. It wasn’t enough that journalists’ opinions (just forget the facts, ma’am) were choking out the sunlight in journalism like kudzu vine. Those opinions not only had to be seen and heard, they also had to be followed by the folks who make things happen.

The next leap, from influencers of action to takers of actions, was a short hop.

Today, the goal of insatiable pseudo-journalists has metastasized from being among the elite to being an equal of the elite who not only decide what’s to be done but actual do the doing.

Put more clearly, the accepted standard for failure among today’s aspiring, and aspired, pseudo-journalists is to become ineffectual, or, God forbid, irrelevant.

Assisting them in those pursuits, it became acceptable to write the news as those manipulators wished the world to appear, to make the soil of society more fertile for the seed of their ideological agenda.

Wearing self-deceiving blinkers like that, it’s no wonder today’s pseudo-journalists don’t get it, don’t get it why they, and the politicians cozying up to them, are the only ones left who have much respect for them or even take them seriously anymore.

What’s happened is that these pseudo-journalists have sucked the life’s blood out of journalism, and turned what was once a noble and respected profession into an empty husk.

What is left when the concept of a factual, daily journal of what actually happened yesterday is excised from journalism?

Without journal, all that’s left of the very word is ism.

The word "left" defines the ism that remains.

It is the leftists who are robbing this country of its genuine journalism.

John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com.

Read John Perry's columns here.

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