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The Jekyll and Hyde problem: What are journalists, and their institutions, for?

Behind Dean Starkman’s “future of news” consensus lurk unanswered questions.
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Jay Rosen, in his 1999 book What Are Journalists For?, shares a story which I think is of vital importance for those trying to understand the debate about “news gurus” kicked off this week by Dean Starkman in the Columbia Journalism Review. In his book discussing the long, strange career of an idea — the idea of “public journalism,” the notion journalism was better when it remembered its primary professional obligation was to public life — Rosen recounts the moment when the idea became (momentarily) corporate stunt.

In 1995 the Gannett Company, then as now the largest US newspaper company as measured by circulation, took out a front page ad in Editor & Publisher, writing: “WE BELIEVE IN PUBLIC JOURNALISM — AND HAVE DONE IT FOR YEARS.” The ad went on to simultaneously praise and domesticate the public journalism movement, attempting to borrow, as Rosen puts it, the movement’s upstart legitimacy in service of some dubious corporate aims. It was kind of like a 60s rock musician licensing his music of youthful rebellion for use in a TV ad.

The problem may not be institutions, networks, or the Internet.

Coming from the leading advocate of public journalism — which was under fire at the time from various corners of the traditional journalism establishment — the pages in which Rosen discusses his complex reaction to the Gannett ad are worth a read. Not only did Gannett get the idea itself partially wrong, Rosen argues, but the company at the time had a well-earned reputation “as one of the homes of market-driven journalism, a corporate ethic ready to dispense with public values for the quickest return on investment.” Quoting Gannett critic Richard McCord, Rosen discusses how Gannett “‘touted traditional virtues in public while dismantling them in private,’” and concludes that “having the Gannett logo attached to public journalism was bad for the idea.” Nevertheless, Rosen concludes with an argument that exiling Gannett from the public journalism club was never really an option, insofar as his argument was aimed at the company’s reporters and editors, not its CEOs.

So I tell this story, not to glibly rehash the past, but because I think it contains some wisdom. And that wisdom might be useful when thinking about the role ideas play in shaping the larger structures of journalistic production. The story can also help us understand the good things institutions do, as well as the many bad things.

What do ideas do?

One of the surprisingly pleasant things about Starkman’s piece is that it brings questions about what “journalism is for” back into a debate that often stops at the bleak shores of basic economics. To quote no one in particular but many people in toto, “changes in journalism are really about advertising; they are not about what journalism ‘should be’” — and, therefore, “the key is to find a business model” and “the rest will work itself out” and “we can’t really control what is happening anyway so we might as well not try.” Tow Center director Emily Bell’s own response to Starkman actually shows the simplicity of this materialistic hopelessness, and does a good job providing an initial answer to the question of what ideas actually do when they become embedded in messy materiality:

All of the pariahs of the Future of News consensus met with or visited The Guardian frequently and I for one was deeply grateful that they did. None of them are “anti-institutional” in quite the way the piece would have you believe. When faced with the decline of print sales (inexorable) and the disruption of your industry, you cannot always stand back and wait to see who wins an intellectual argument. You have to make decisions, organize newsrooms, and build technology. Having external voices and intellects that point you to rethink what you do, even if you don’t agree on every point, is important.

Ideas, in short, have consequences, and fighting about ideas is important. Which is why I’m so happy Starkman picked this particular fight.

Starkman’s basic argument is simple: The ideas promoted by what he calls the “Future of News” consensus have been pernicious for journalism insofar as they:

  • focus too much energy and attention on networks rather than on institutions, and
  • encourage the “hamster-wheelization” of journalistic work.

It’s easy to find areas of consensus around which both sides of the debate can agree. First, that large institutions are, of course, necessary components of any journalistic future; and second, that institutions and networks of journalism will obviously exist together in some form of symbiosis. I want to push past these areas of basic disagreement, though, to talk about what I call the Jekyll and Hyde problem of news institutions. (I should also note that I’m writing this simultaneously along with the conclusion to my forthcoming book Networking the News, which will be published by Temple University Press next year. Expect to see some of these thoughts worked through there, as well.)

In her response to Starkman, Emily Bell argues that there is nothing about “the web” as a set of technologies that automatically lead to hamsterization:

To say that individual journalists are disempowered by a medium that allows for so much more individual reporting and publishing freedom is baffling. If this case is made in the newsroom context of reporters having too much to do, then maybe this is an institutional fault in misunderstanding the requirements of producing effective digital journalism. Unlike the pages and pages of newsprint and rolling twenty-four-hour news, there is no white space, no dead airtime to fill on the Internet. It responds to 140 characters as well as to five thousand words.

In other words, if news organizations have responded to the web by creating moronic hamster wheel scenarios, then this is the fault of the institutions themselves rather than underlying technologies. The institutions have misunderstood the nature of the digital marketplace and have responded with a series of blunt-force production techniques designed to maximize journalistic output in the service of web traffic. In addition, many of them have also simultaneously clung to outdated production routines that themselves increase journalistic workload (“write the same story three times rather than save time by linking to something else” is just one example). This is what I would call the dark, or Mr. Hyde, side of institutions — their conservatism that verges on an inability to change, and the fact that by seeming to act rationally (based on the “old way” of doing things) they ultimately end up producing deeply irrational outcomes.

There is, however, a Dr. Jekyll side to institutions and professions, and I think it is this side that Starkman is mourning in his piece. In the web era, we have usually told a particular story about institutions and the professions they house, one summed up nicely in Clay Shirky’s discussion, in Here Comes Everybody, of the monk Johannes Trithemius, the Abbot of Sponheim. To oversimplify and therefore make a long story short: Professions are monopolistic guilds designed to raise barriers to entry in order to maintain professional privilege at the expense of the public good.

This story isn’t untrue. It is a story I’ve told myself. But it’s not the only side to the tale.

The other side to institutions and professions, a side long recognized by even the harshest critics of professional power, is that they create non-material cultures that insulate workers from the ravages of the free market. Professions create an alternative reward system in which status and pay are determined not simply though the workings of the market, but through alternate hierarchies of worth. And it is the dismantling of these alternate hierarchies that I think Starkman is really angry about in his piece. Notice, too, the organizations that Emily Bell praises in her response to Starkman: The Guardian, The New York Times, Andy Carvin at NPR, Ushahidi, Global Voices, and ProPublica. What all of these organizations have in common is that most of them are insulated, to some degree or another, from the ravages of the market. Even those openly market-oriented news organizations like The New York Times have powerful, mitigating professional cultures that, however obnoxious they might occasionally be, protect their workers from feeling like timecard-punching drones.

(This, as an aside, is what makes the appearance of the final name on Bell’s list — the Journal Register Co. — so intriguing and important. The question of whether the model for the reinvention of Journal Register is ProPublica or Gannett, or whether it can somehow manage to be both, is the most important single real-life experiment in the future of news debate.)

The problem, in short, may not be institutions, networks, or the Internet. The problem might be capitalism — or, if that sounds too radical, then perhaps the problem is the libertarian ethos that is also embedded in the Silicon Valley roots of the future of news consensus, an ethos which often renders it incapable of seeing any value to institutions at all. If the problem with journalism, in addition to its hidebound structures of power and its arrogant professionals, is that it has been a free-rider on a non-functional informational marketplace, then the collapse of structures designed to insulate it from the market is an unalloyed good. This is what I think many of those working on the edges of the future of news space seem to believe.

If, on the other hand, you think that the free market (historically, and also in its most brutal current form) has been a problem for journalism rather than a boon, then you might wince in horror to see one of the last barriers to that market collapse in a cloud of digital dust.

Which brings us back to the role of ideas, and of the part played by “future of news thinkers” in general. To my mind, the job of anyone seriously thinking about the future of journalism in 2011 is not simply to ponder workable business models. It is not simply to help reporters figure out how to become better “innovators.” The task, rather, is to further explore the question asked by Rosen more than a decade ago: What are journalists for? Because by asking what journalism is for, you’re helping to rebuild a sense of what it might do that isn’t simple enslavement to market demand.

Ideas have consequences, and fighting about ideas is important.

In fulfilling the obligation to think about the purpose of journalism, one task might be to work with journalists in rethinking notions of “the public” and “reporting” and “politics” and “democracy” in order to rebuild the institutional, professional culture journalism needs to act as a strong counterweight to entrenched systems of power. Another task might be to critically interrogate many of the operating assumptions of the Silicon Valley consensus, not in a cheap way, but in a manner informed by nuance, history, philosophy, and ethnographic work. A third task is simply to ask our students what they think about when they think about these questions, and to dialogue with them about potential solutions.

The problem, of course, is that this kind of intellectual work does not translate well to the consulting circuit. It does not usually provide help for industries desperate for a quick fix. Rather, it can usually be found in the classroom, or in talking with students, or in the bookstore, or when blogging, or in those increasingly rare moments when people actually find the time and space to quietly and slowly reflect upon the world.

Reporters, after all, are not the only workers who wake up every day facing a looming hamster wheel, one that seems far larger and oppressive than it did even a decade ago. To some degree, we all are facing that wheel. Whether the cause is technology, institutions, politics, capitalism, culture, or something else, the cycle of endless production for less money, less security, and less reward seems to be a general feature of our troubled times. To grapple with that reality, the notion that journalists work for something more than money might be perhaps the only true solace future of news thinkers can offer to practitioners of the journalistic craft.

Image by David Sim used under a Creative Commons license.

                                   
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Ann Marie Lipinski    
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard wants to hear your idea for making journalism better. Come spend a few weeks working on it in Cambridge.
  • http://www.spot.us digidave

    This is the single best analysis of the bitch-meme this week and shows room for middle ground. Kudos. I fear Starkman and Bell are too close to see where they both are right/wrong at the same time.

  • http://twitter.com/Chanders Chanders

    Dave, coming from you that means an awful lot. Thanks. 

    Mostly, I am glad we are having this conversation. So often, ideas or memes congeal into a common wisdom that is helpfully interrogated every once in a while. And it is helpful to do it- sometimes, not always-  on platforms other than Twitter where ideas have a little more room to breathe. 

  • http://twitter.com/honyocker Jake Bayless

    Great piece!
    I think that Journalists who perceive themselves as the ombudsmen and women of their communities need to consider rising up and occupying a friendly hyperlocal nonprofit digital-first rag – perhaps pseudonymously.  Only then will the contradiction actually begin to find some resolution.  It’s way past high-time.

  • Jatrudel

    I take it your Mom’s a Prof or else you’re being paid by the word? Suggestion. Take this article and read it aloud to someone. Are they still awake? Now blue pencil 90% of the adjectives, adverbs, and meaningless and useless phrases separated by commas like “The problem, in short,” “To some degree,” etc., try throwing in an interesting aside or two, a little humor, and voila, you might have a career writing obituaries ahead of you. This is what Harvard turns out today? Pathetic.

    If you’re going to write an article about “Public Journalism,” whatever that is, why don’t you write about how the MSM ignored Occupy Wall Street for weeks, and the Sunday morning talking heads denigrated this singular legitimate movement while touting the MSM created Tea Party? Why was it so important for the cops to get these people off the street and out of the parks? True journalism is about having some balls, man.

  • http://twitter.com/burtonjg Jeremy G. Burton

    Drives me nuts when anyone pulls out this standard gripe in moments of media criticism: “Instead of reporting about X, why aren’t you writing about Y?!? Shame!”

    Here it’s public-interest journalism versus Occupy Wall Street. In today’s instantaneous, never-ending news cycle, is it not possible to have room for both “X” and “Y”? Apparently not.

  • http://twitter.com/emilybell emily bell

    This is full of the right questions Chris, especially the idea of asking those currently in our classrooms to think about what journalism is and could be for. Your point about the general world of work is also extremely well made. I am always surprised that journalists who covered the industrial decline and technological reinvention of so many other areas of labor don’t acknowledge more often that journalism is not special in this respect. Thanks for taking the time to analyze and expand.

  • http://www.wordyard.com Scott Rosenberg

    I enjoyed this analysis, Chris. I think you’re onto something in zeroing in on the way institutions have (sometimes) been able to insulate particular kinds of work and workers from market forces. Here’s the funny thing, though: institutions seem to do that best when they have monopolies or other protected forms of financing/profit. When threatened, that kind of insulation is the first thing to be stripped from the circultry.

    Meanwhile, what do we find out on the open Internet? All sorts of journalism-like activities being pursued by individuals or small groups for reasons other than earning a paycheck. In effect, the very sort of “non-material culture” you identify as being protected by old-line journalism institutions is actually the native form of cultural production on the Web itself. 

    I don’t think this discredits or disqualifies your argument. It’s just another balance to keep in mind: the network’s culture-production isn’t all market forces and capitalism. In fact, its most unusual and unpredictable impact on society has been to open a space for people who have other motivations. 

    I know Nick Carr will argue that these developments are insignificant and will all go the way of ham radio. Obviously I disagree!

  • sgediting

    “Reporters, after all, are not the only workers who wake up every day
    facing a looming hamster wheel, one that seems far larger and oppressive
    than it did even a decade ago. To some degree, we all are facing that
    wheel.”

    Thanks for underlining an important point. More worryingly, it feels as if there is very little room in the current mean-ness to fight for the right of non-hamsterwheelism. Instead, people get angry with anyone who they think is privileged and try to force them to run in just as many circles as they already do.

  • http://twitter.com/postgutenbergB postgutenberg

    Chanders,

     

    I’m glad to see you take on this subject, but could you
    please substantiate what you are saying here? I will try to do the same in this
    response.

     

    Jay Rosen’s point about the co-opting of 5th
    Estate thinking by Gannett (the 4th Estate)  is a good one. (5th Estate: see
    link at the bottom of this comment)

     

    Surely you are mistaken in saying (1) that the ‘business
    model’ – which includes the structure of ownership – is not the problem; (2)
    that newspapers and other media are protected from the market; that they ‘they create non-material
    cultures that insulate workers from the ravages of the free market.’

     

    You say,

     

    (a) === Professions create an alternative reward system in
    which status and pay are determined not simply though the workings of the market,
    but through alternate hierarchies of worth. ===

     

    … and (b) === To quote no one in particular but many people
    in toto, “changes in journalism are really about advertising; they are not
    about what journalism ‘should be’” — and, therefore, “the key is to find a
    business model” ===

     

    Advertising revenue supports most of today’s print
    enterprises. Here, too, ‘the medium is the message’.  Vehicles for communicating facts (the media)
    depend for their operation on messages selling goods and services (advertising)
    – and this dependence influences what ideas and facts are communicated to us.

    It is an arrangement distorts the truth. Since this was posted three weeks
    ago, I have had nothing but thanks from honest workers in Silicon
    Valley – in both the computer science community and marketing:

     

    ‘How competition for advertising in print media let Steve
    Jobs warp history and steal the credit for the computer revolution’

    http://post-gutenberg.com/2011/10/25/how-competition-for-advertising-in-print-media-let-steve-jobs-warp-history-and-steal-the-credit-for-the-computer-revolution/

     

    We really do have to change the business model, and – as I
    read you – experiment with lots of alternatives. Co-ownership of the media is
    now a realistic possibility. Readers could become stakeholders in online publishing
    sites.

    >.>Reader-commenters whose clicks attract advertisers
    to the online editions of newspapers would have incentives to click far more
    often if they also had stakes in those sites.

    >> This would be a practical and true example of the ‘mutualisation’
    a British editor has been talking about in recent weeks, in describing his
    paper’s relationship with its readers – but without proposing any substantive
    change.

    >>Management panels that include reader-commenters
    could help to decide on policies – and moderation of discussions, which look
    awfully like censorship on certain sites these days, even on those belonging to
    ‘liberal’ newspapers.

    See: Wanted: a brave newspaper for an experiment in which
    readers become stakeholders

    http://post-gutenberg.com/2011/09/05/wanted-a-brave-newspaper-for-an-experiment-in-which-readers-become-stakeholders/

     

    and,

    The Keiretsu-Cooperative: A Model for Post-Gutenberg
    Publishing

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1532173

     

    …….. One more thing. Could you be overstating the extent to
    which guilds were insulated from material realities? Yes, they were guilty of
    restricting trade to fatten their coffers, but their history and role in
    society are complicated subjects, as even the Wiki entry about them
    demonstrates. It says, correctly,

     

    === Guilds are sometimes said to be the precursors of modern
    trade unions, and also, paradoxically, of some aspects of the modern
    corporation. ===

     

     

    The 5th Estate:

    Stieg Larsson, 5th estate forerunner, marginalised as a
    media critic 

    http://post-gutenberg.com/2011/09/05/stieg-larsson-5th-estate-forerunner-marginalised-media-critic/

  • http://twitter.com/postgutenbergB postgutenberg

    If there is someone at the Nieman Lab who can eliminate the huge white gaps between the paragraphs I pasted in from Word in my last comment, that would be wonderful. I did not mean to be such a space hog.

    Two more points: I meant to add, over there:

    An experiment in co-ownership would show how easily reader-stakeholders could end Dean Starkman’s ‘hamsterisation’ of today’s journalists. I think we’d see striking improvements in the quality of content contributed by readers if there was the faintest chance of sharing in future financial rewards. That would give the journalists time to rest.

    I haven’t read the Clay Shirky book you mention, but went to my bookshelves to check a suspicion that this doesn’t sound quite right:=== Professions are monopolistic guilds designed to raise barriers to entry in order to maintain professional privilege at the expense of the public good.=== 

    You warned us that your summary was rough. Perhaps he said in his text that there were important ways in which the guilds _did_ serve the public good — as the historian John Hale points out in his evaluations of the role of the guilds in Renaissance civilisation. He mentions the ‘steadying civic role of cofraternities’, which helped social stability. … But that’s neither here nor there if you suspect, as I do, that the best historical parallel for journalists protected by the noble ideals of the old 4th Estate is not guilds but priesthoods.

    … Thanks, again, to you and Dean Starkman for this stimulating discussion.

  • http://twitter.com/postgutenbergB postgutenberg

    Aha, I found an ‘edit’ button I missed seeing earlier … Wonderful. I’ve done the job myself. The redundant spaces have gone.

  • http://twitter.com/postgutenbergB postgutenberg

    Funny software! My original comment here disappeared. Reposting:

    Chanders, 

    I’m glad to see you take on this subject, but could you please
    substantiate what you are saying here? I will try to do the same in this
    response.

    Jay Rosen’s point about the co-opting of 5th Estate
    thinking by Gannett (the 4th Estate)  is a good one. (5th Estate:
    see link at the bottom of this comment)

    Surely you are mistaken in saying (1) that the ‘business model’ –
    which includes the structure of ownership – is not the problem; (2) that
    newspapers and other media are protected from the market; that they ‘they create
    non-material cultures that insulate workers from the ravages of the free market.’

    You say, 

    (a) === Professions create an alternative reward system in which
    status and pay are determined not simply though the workings of the market, but
    through alternate hierarchies of worth. ===

     … and (b) === To quote no one in particular but many people in
    toto, “changes in journalism are really about advertising; they are not about
    what journalism ‘should be’” — and, therefore, “the key is to find a business
    model” ===

     Advertising revenue supports most of today’s print enterprises.
    Here, too, ‘the medium is the message’.  Vehicles for communicating
    facts (the media) depend for their operation on messages selling goods and
    services (advertising) – and this dependence influences what ideas and facts
    are communicated to us.

    It is an arrangement distorts the truth. Since this was posted
    three weeks ago, I have had nothing but thanks from honest workers in Silicon Valley – in both the computer science
    community and marketing:

     ‘How competition for advertising in print media let Steve Jobs
    warp history and steal the credit for the computer revolution’

    http://post-gutenberg.com/2011/10/25/how-competition-for-advertising-in-print-media-let-steve-jobs-warp-history-and-steal-the-credit-for-the-computer-revolution/

    We really do have to change the business model, and – as I read
    you – experiment with lots of alternatives. Co-ownership of the media is now a
    realistic possibility. Readers could become stakeholders in online publishing
    sites.

    >.>Reader-commenters whose clicks attract advertisers to the
    online editions of newspapers would have incentives to click far more often if
    they also had stakes in those sites.

    >> This would be a practical and true example of the
    ‘mutualisation’ a British editor has been talking about in recent weeks, in describing
    his paper’s relationship with its readers – but without proposing any
    substantive change.

    >>Management panels that include reader-commenters could
    help to decide on policies – and moderation of discussions, which look awfully
    like censorship on certain sites these days, even on those belonging to
    ‘liberal’ newspapers.

    See: Wanted: a brave newspaper for an experiment in which readers
    become stakeholders

    http://post-gutenberg.com/2011/09/05/wanted-a-brave-newspaper-for-an-experiment-in-which-readers-become-stakeholders/

     and,

    The Keiretsu-Cooperative: A Model for Post-Gutenberg Publishing

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1532173

     …….. One more thing. Could you be overstating the extent to which
    guilds were insulated from material realities? Yes, they were guilty of
    restricting trade to fatten their coffers, but their history and role in
    society are complicated subjects, as even the Wiki entry about them
    demonstrates. It says, correctly,

     === Guilds are sometimes said to be the precursors of modern trade
    unions, and also, paradoxically, of some aspects of the modern corporation. ===

     The 5th Estate:

    Stieg Larsson, 5th estate forerunner, marginalised as a media
    critic 

    http://post-gutenberg.com/2011/09/05/stieg-larsson-5th-estate-forerunner-marginalised-media-critic/

  • Jatrudel

    Standard gripe? Tell me, what’s standard about the MSM totally ignoring tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs and homes and retirement? They want the politicians to get off their asses and go do the job they said they’d do. Please stop giving them a platform telling us how they are fighting for us. We don’t care. It’s not our job, it’s theirs. Just STHU and go fix it. The MSM is the problem here. They want the parties kept at arms length. BTW when did Boehner get elected POTUS? Why does he have a right to respond whenever Obama speaks? That’s another MSM creation designed to promote divisiveness and rancor. The networks are raking in the coin while the parties campaign in perpetuity.

    Some of us want to see real journalistic objectivity and integrity restored before we die. OWS represents only one of the stories buried by MSM going begging for a standard bearer. The illegal war with Iraq (never officially sanctioned by Congress) took hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars and for ten years the MSM were its chronic enablers. Afghanistan? Nothing in the news or the Op Eds on Karzai’s ties to big oil or the pipeline out of Turkmenistan, which is why we’re still there lobbing predator missiles down on Taliban goatherders. What happened to all the stimulus money? Before the Republicans, the Clintons were selling MIRV secrets to the Chinese out of the Lincoln bedroom and all the MSM could talk about was Monica, and even then they were reluctant to do that. Drives you nuts? What Nixon did is laughable in comparison. You may not realize it but you kids are the only chance this country has left.

  • http://twitter.com/burtonjg Jeremy G. Burton

    I feel you missed my point. 

    I’m not saying the Occupy movement is unworthy of coverage. It is. So are the many things you listed in your reply. But whether those stories ever get reported has nothing to do with Anderson’s decision to spend his time writing this piece for Nieman Lab. To have this particular dialogue is important, and of all things, it is not detracting from the Occupy movement.

    Yes, it annoys me when press critics treat journalism like a zero-sum game.

    Also, you say you want “journalistic objectivity and integrity restored before we die.” I believe you and I both want a strong, independent press that continually strives to do better. To borrow from the latest CJR, we need journalism that matches the complications of our time. But let me assure you: journalism has never been as objective or had as much integrity as you think existed in some bygone golden age. Yes, demand excellence and accountability from today’s journalists. But please drop the rhetoric about a better time that never existed.

  • Jatrudel

    It’s ironic you describe journalism as a zero sum game. For decades Wall Street has been pitching the glories of investing in equities as a zero sum game when in reality they’ve run an intricately designed covertly corrupt system that grew out of Jesse Livermore’s bucket shop days. They’ve been cheating people on a daily basis out of their life’s savings with the full knowledge and protection of the SEC and the DOJ; funny but if I laid out high frequency trading, front-running, naked shorting, failures to deliver, etc., the majority of people down at Zucotti Park wouldn’t have a clue. They know only that they were cheated and today no one is going to jail for it except them.

    It was unfair of me to hijack Professor Anderson’s article in the manner I did and I apologize to him for that. I recognize I view the field of journalism with a jaundiced eye and it definitely has affected my POV. I think what’s different today is what has happened down in Washington; collusion between branches of government, corruption in the halls and the wholesale invasion of lobbyists and foreign interests who have descended on Congress like a plague of locusts. We are without leadership. It’s unfortunate; we’ve always had a great President willing to step into the breech at the critical moment.

    So here we have it in a nutshell. Ike was right; the military industrial complex is bigger and badder than ever. It has destroyed our way of life, and journalists are the last to catch on to this fact. I don’t view journalism the way you people do. Most of you are of one mind. I get the impression you believe your professional credentials give you cachet to ignore OWS, but I think you are missing the big picture.  You are not the story here, and neither is OWS.

  • Jatrudel

    I guess I will never accept assembly line journalism, canning and marketing it as a branded product. To me journalism has always been synonymous with individualism. When the deep pockets of institutions are  introduced into the equation, soon it’s no longer an objective product that he or she produces, but a carefully structured message. The corporations are moving rapidly to corral, contain and control this newest frontier, social media, and they’re front running with artificial bots who step in to inject what appears to be occasional personal commentary, thus maintaining the illusion we have connected with another human being. As for Wall Street, 70 to 80% of all trading today is done by computers and algorithms. The office buildings in NYC will soon go vacant. Big Brother is here and his name is Watson.