The Day the Music Died

For all that it mattered, Obama had my vote until he kicked 3 reporters off a plane in the closing week of the campaign when their newspapers endorsed the other candidate. It was in 2008 that I set out to write about the threat to democracy when newspapers died. The news reports on the news is like watching a loved one with cancer. The deathwatch was prolonged, but the end result is fairly obvious.

A generation has come of age with a free news media. Without the news, I would not be on-line with the anticipation of excitement which I bring to the desk each evening.

Today I read a piece by Neil Macdonald of the CBC News. If you have never had the pleasure of watching the news produced from Canada, you have missed one of the Cadillacs of the industry.

Macdonald writes: “Many of the people who govern us do not believe the public has a right to know very much at all. This is not a conservative or a liberal thing.”

“George W. Bush and his group were obvious stonewallers. But the Obama administration is, in some ways, even more controlling. Barack Obama has taken up the Bush practice of pre-selecting and notifying reporters in advance that they will be called upon at his press conference, leaving all the others to act as props. Obama’s people are also famous for what’s called message discipline, meaning no leaks.”

“Were it not for newspapers, the American public would likely not know that its former president had authorized secret CIA ‘black’ prisons abroad, where government operatives were free to torture detainees. Or that the U.S. government was wiretapping American citizens without judicial permission. Or that returning veterans, their minds and bodies shattered, were suffering in the dank squalor of a mouldy military hospital.”

Amidst the age of bailouts, it was rather noble that not a newspaper was asking the government for loans that the industry might survive. Without newspapers, we are all of us more vulnerable. Whatever your beliefs, whatever your political affiliation. Anyone who has not given thought to subscribing to the local news at this point in history, to save an institution that has provided a formidable part of a democrat society, will rue the day when their town no longer has reporters out sniffing out stories of corruption, dishonesty, or well thought opinion pieces.

Newspapers for the most part are about figuring out what things are worth. Newspapers are about integrity and setting standards which politicians are expected to meet. And newspapers are about those who walk among us, and learning through the obituary page who is now gone. Sadly, the newspapers in my town, both of them, do not appear to have a life expectancy of more than a few months.


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