As a life-long practitioner of journalism – back to the day when the word itself was “fancy” – I know that media were never objective, at least on their editorial pages and commentators.
The New York Herald Tribune was blatantly Republican, as were William Randolph Hearst and Colonel Robert “Bertie” McCormick in their days. Also nationally, Rush Limbaugh captured the far right for radio. My first job out of the Army was on The Washington Post, which “Butch” Meyer bought so Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a “voice” in the national capitol.
Being a Southern Democrat – except for segregation – I had no trouble in feeling comfortable at 1515 L Street NW. The same thing applied to Broadcast House, when I entered television in 1953. On a free-lance basis, I wrote a column for West Virginian Rep. Elizabeth Kee, who belonged to the same party. I followed her philosophy, making comfortable people of all political hues.
The media, however, have undergone a major metamorphosis.
Wednesday’s Variety announced it would no longer turn out an edition with paper and ink. The show biz “bible” follows the trail of so many distinguished publications. My former “hometown,” The New Orleans Times-Picayune presses run only three times a week; in my boyhood, there were four newspapers daily.
Internet caused the revolution. I receive the news through my computer principally, supplemented by the daily Frederick News-Post, Sunday’s Washington Post and I pay for the several editions of The New York Times on-line. I am part of the declining audience. Somebody has to call me before I turn on the television; David Daniel phoned from Dallas to alert the tragedy on 9/11. (Of course, Frederick’s Morning Mayor Bob Miller discusses movies with me shortly before nine Fridays, on WFMD/930AM.)
Underlying this column is the Internet story about the latest tome on Roger Ailes in which Zev Chafits tries to eviscerate the reigning chairman of Fox News, as the author tried to do with Mr. Limbaugh earlier. The New York Times book editor naturally found fault with the subject that didn’t astonish; I expected more or less.
In the wake of the radio talk shows, Mr. Ailes shaped his television news to gather the largest rating, leaving behind Cable News Network, which Oklahoma friend Ed Turner served as the first news vice president. I worked for Ed when I was in Italy. As to be expected in his day, CNN strived for objectivity, unlike now. Internet channels serve the political fare that listeners want.
Of course, I strive for the same readers, in more than 20 years in The Frederick News-Post and for the last seven on TheTentacle.com. At the same time, my commentary has been praised and caused several people to attempt to get me fired. Himself a deep-dyed Republican, George Delaplaine believed absolutely in the First Amendment and I sold lots of papers.
In the end, the new ownership bred a sense of disappointment with me, so I resigned. How long the local newspaper can survive when their betters are folding has little to do with my presence in its pages. It’s inevitable.