VANDALISM? CORRUPTION? HAVE NO WHERE ELSE TO TURN? NO STORY TOO BIG OR SMALL THE OSN WILL INVESTIGATE! Please email news tips to Hildelysiak@gmail.com
By Hilde Kate Lysiak
NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: THIS IS NOT A STATEMENT ON THE CANDIDACY OF BERNIE SANDERS (THE OSN DOESN’T GET INTO POLITICS), BUT JUST ONE VIEW OF ONE JOURNALISM POLICY MENTIONED THAT IS IMPORTANT TO THE OSN. THANK YOU
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently published an Op-Ed in the Columbia Journalism Review on his plan to save journalism.
Mr. Sanders Op-Ed begins by offering a great defense of the mission of real reporters, writing “Real journalism is different from the gossip, punditry, and clickbait that dominates today’s news. Real journalism, in the words of Joseph Pulitzer, is the painstaking reporting that will “fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, [and] always fight demagogues.” Pulitzer said that journalism must always “oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.”
The OSN couldn’t agree more!
But if Mr. Sanders understands this, then why would he propose (among many other ideas) that we make some media dependent on the very powers that we are supposed to hold into account?
Mr. Sanders writes, “we should consider taxing targeted ads and using the revenue to fund nonprofit civic-minded media. That will be part of an overall effort to substantially increase funding for programs that support public media’s news-gathering operations at the local level—in much the same way many other countries already fund independent public media.”
The OSN isn’t questioning Mr. Sanders intentions of judging his candidacy, but as a journalist who has covered hundreds of local news stories, it is the view of this reporter that by making some media dependent on the same government they we are supposed to be holding to account, that this proposal could be harmful.
In today’s America, the most powerful people are often the rich who own many of the products and services we decide to buy, and the government who are trusted to make laws. For a reporter to do their job, they need to be independent from both.
How can a reporter be independent when their paycheck might depend on one — or both?
I also take issue with Mr. Sanders view that journalism NEEDS a plan to be saved, but the OSN has some ideas on how struggling media can survive and grow today (outlines most fully in my commencement speech at the top of this story).
First, I believe the future has never been brighter for reporters.
Think about it. Has there ever been a time when more people wanted or needed the news more than at THIS very moment right now?
Because of the internet, people from all around the world can access information anytime and anywhere and all from the screen of their smartphone.
I’m proud to say that the newspaper I’m the publisher of, the Orange Street News, DOES make a profit. And I do this while also publishing all my stories online for free and without accepting paid a single dollar in advertising. In fact, my print subscribers are enough for me to pay for all of my expenses including printing along with a few upgrades.
First, I keep my expenses low.
But most importantly, I never stop working to get good stories, and good scoops leads to new subscribers.
It isn’t complicated. I know that as soon as the Orange Street News stops getting exclusive stories that are important to the people, the people will stop buying the Orange Street News.
And I think that is how it should be.
But there IS a crisis in media.
But it isn’t the shrinking newsrooms or losses in revenue.
The crisis we are facing, is one of trust.
See -too many people just don’t trust what they are reading anymore.
And if you are wondering how we got to this point, just look no further than the current generation of reporters. Too many of them have strayed from the basics I knew by age six — that reporting was about finding answers to those six sacred questions: who, what, when, why, and how.
Instead, too many of today’s reporters on both the left and right have made a decision to start mixing their reporting with a kind of theater, a disgusting sort of political based entertainment that seeks to divide people along political party lines to fulfill whatever bias they might feel or maybe to generate page clicks or whatever.
Don’t believe me?
Pull up your favorite reporter’s Twitter account, spend two minutes going through their feed, and then ask yourself if the other fifty percent of the country who don’t agree with their political opinions are going to believe A SINGLE WORD of their reporting.
These so-called reporters spend so much time trying to persuade other people to think just like they do, but what they never understood is that by doing so they’ve become nothing but more noise.
See – by mixing their political opinions with their news they’ve created two different medias.
As a result, people are increasingly only talking to themselves, or to those who already think the exact same way that they do. And without new information, how can people grow?
That’s why I keep my political opinions to myself and am careful to report only facts.
I know that if I lose the trust of my readers, I might as well find another job.
But as long as I have that trust, I can keep growing.
The OSN believes that if media can establish this trust, that not only won’t journalism need to be saved by anyone — but that with all these new readers and new ways to get information — that we will enter a new golden age of media!
So thanks, but no thanks Mr. Sanders. The Orange Street News won’t ever accept handouts, whether it be from a corporation or those in the government, and will instead fight for my newspaper the old fashioned way — one subscriber at a time.
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Very well reasoned piece. But, let’s look at the flip-side of the coin. With five corporations owning 90% of the media i wonder if we are not in much more dangerous hands than our government (our usual government). The way we are headed, if you go to work for a non-independent news organization, i will no longer be reading your work. It’s not that the reporters have bad motives, or that the editors are telling them that you have to write this a certain way. But the corporate influence subtly changes the group “think” and then news media has a subtle bias, which may or may not increase in effect as the pages of the calendar turn. Thank you for what you do Ms. Lysiac.
I hope that you visit my blog and support it
Wonderful article and exactly what the media needs to do – facts only, I’ll make up my mind what to think about them. I am afraid you are a voice in the wilderness however, unless you can get the word out to the whole USA. I sent your link to my local editor in hopes that he will contact you so he can publish your piece in the local news paper. I hope that your other followers do the same with their local media. Keep up the great work. I’m sure you will continue to blossom in your new location.
I strongly agree with what Mr. Ludden has stated above.
In my view, there is a huge problem with Ms. Lysiak’s formulation of “being careful to only report facts.” I’m saying this as a published journalist, just as Ms. Lysiak is. There is no such thing as objective reporting. The values and biases of a journalist constantly affect how we write anything, including news stories. The journalist must decide which facts are worth reporting and which aren’t. The journalist must decide which facts should be at the center of the story and which are less important. The journalist must decide which sources to quote–and in what ways–and which sources aren’t relevant. I can go on and on. Every word that a journalist writes, every decision that a journalist makes about how to use a genuine fact–all that might be handled quite differently by a journalist with different values and biases.
The most recent news story on Orange Street News is Ms. Lysiak’s July 14th piece about a man from Sunbury being charged after allegedly being found with drug paraphernalia in his car. There are facts in this news story. The man was indeed charged. The criminal complaint surely says exactly what Ms. Lysiak quotes. But if i were a reporter for Orange Street News, if Ms. Lysiak had given me this assignment, I say that I’d have written that news story somewhat differently. Not that there’s anything wrong with the way she wrote it. Not that I’d have written it better. Just that I’d have written it differently–because my values and biases are different from hers.
Whoa, whoa. Did I just read that a published journalist admit that that the members of their group are biased and that is OK? Biased reporting is NOT Ok! It is what I call propaganda – the stuff of Pravda. I hope in the future Mr Lamm will sign all his work in the future with his name and political affiliation to alert his readers. I’ll Take Hilde’s reporting any day.
John Lawrence: you missed the whole point. Every human has her or his own point of view and set of values that shapes and informs their opinions and writings. There is no avoiding it. As a journalist, or any writer, you have to be fully cognisant of where you are coming from. A journalist or writer who writes the truth as they see it, and as it is informed by their deepest values, may not necessarily be right but they will have integrity. Both Hilde Lysiak and Bob Lamm seem to me to meet these criteria, even when they disagree.
A journalist from the corporate media cannot consistentlywrite from their deepest values as their articles will necessarily be constrained by the corporate interests of the media organ for whom they are reporting. Journalists in the mainstream corporate media are already in the land of Pravda…something that became blatantly obvious when the New York Times shilled for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
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