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Scholar presents scathing indictment of journalism (with video) Comment on this post ↓
July 16th, 2013 by Warren Swil

News media failing

Americans, betraying

core journalistic values

Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the University of Southern California Marty Kaplan. Click to enlarge.

NOTED MEDIA SCHOLAR Marty Kaplan delivered  a scathing indictment of contemporary American journalism on “Moyers’ & Company” on public television stations across America on Friday night.
“The news media is now part of the privileged elite,” Kaplan said. “They are not the scrappy adversaries one would hope they would be, fighting for the little guy.”
He didn’t stop there.
“The stuff being reported on the news is not the kind of stuff we need to know about,” he added.
Kaplan is the Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
Bill Moyers has for decades hosted the best show on television … although it now has a different name.
Watch the segment below the fold.

USC scholar Marty Kaplan, right, talks to the host on Bill Moyers’ Journal about the failure of journalism on Friday’s show.

THE CONVERSATION TITLED “Weapons of Mass Distraction,” ranged across all the current topics in the news: the George Zimmerman trial, the IRS scandal … and the things that really matter, like pervasive government spying and the climate change occurring everywhere around us.
“We are paying attention to the wrong things,” Kaplan said, referring of course to journalists. Then, talking about the news consumer, he said: “We are paying attention to infotainment, which is being spoon-fed to us and sadly, frankly, we are enabling because we love the stuff.”
A widely watched media scholar, Kaplan has just been honored with two awards from the Los Angeles Press Club. One was for Best Column, Moyers said in his set-up.
“[Kaplan] is one of the keenest and most sensible observers of politics, the press and culture,” Moyers said. “He lets his mind range wherever his incurable curiosity takes him.”
Something like your raconteur and this blog!
The two riffed off the coverage – or lack thereof – of President Obama’s recent major speech on climate change to illustrate the media’s apparent inability to focus on major but underreported topics.

Bill Moyers has had the best show on television for decades.

After showing a Fox News reporter cutting away from Obama mid-speech, Moyers aired a clip of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer speaking over the president.
“The meta message is, here’s grist for combat between different factions,” Kaplan said, “how is it going to play out? Rather than the message, which is, here’s what’s happening to our climate, here’s what we have to do to prevent it.”
Later, Kaplan fantasized: “In a dream world, journalists would make important stuff interesting,” he said. “They would use the same kind of techniques they use to cover the Treyvon Martin case, to make stuff like climate change just as compelling.”

WHY JOURNALISM IS FAILING, Kaplan explains, is because of its corporate world view. “Journalism is socially constructed. We enter into a contract through history, based on class and evidence, of what journalism is and is not. Things are ruled in or ruled out [of news coverage] all the time.
“Let us not [allow] the imprimatur of some corporate trademark say that this defines what journalism is.”
Citing the example of Glenn Greenwald, journalist for the Guardian in the U.K. and constitutional law expert who broke the Edward Snowden story about NSA spying, Kaplan said there “is a credible case that journalism is activism.”
When Greenwald says that the government is lying, Kaplan observes: “It is either true or not true.”
Kaplan remains optimistic that the American people can be aroused, like the Brazilians were, over something like a bus fare increase.
“The challenge is not only to give us the information we should be paying attention to, and to do it in a way that keeps our attention, the challenge is also, what do we as citizens do with it?”
This is must see TV. Watch the full segment below.

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