Archive for September 2009

If you like the bloggers you have, you get to keep them.

September 18, 2009

Choice and competition, by God, energize every field of endeavor. Here’s hoping you’ll welcome this humble offering of choice and competition. Of course, if you like the bloggers you already have, you get to keep them.

After a somewhat miscalculated career change, the Reasonable Reporter returns, with high hopes and apparently decent prospects of rejoining what is dismissively described these days as the mainstream media.  (MSM, in the shorthand of bloggers.)

The benefits of stepping back for a year cannot be overstated. Among them, a chance to absorb from a different perspective the degree to which people hate the mainstream media. The criticism falls roughly into several categories. Biased, lazy, and dumb are the top three, in that order. There’s more where that came from, and yes, it’s painful to listen to.

Some of the criticism is warranted. The Reasonable Reporter, who has not been a reporter during this time, is the first to call out a missed angle.

Some criticism is astonishing. More than one person said that he or she had never spoken with a reporter who recounted the conversation accurately. Never! Never is a pretty big word, but these speakers didn’t believe they were engaged in hyperbole.

Some of the disdain is patently unfair. Not surprisingly, harsh assessments issue from the very people who avoid contact with reporters, and who, coincidentally, are often at the center of dense and complicated stories.

Enough about Nevada. The picture is bigger. This week, critics nationwide have screeched like fingernails on a blackboard, after two citizen journalists with a micro camera blew the lid off ACORN by treading where no professional journalist could have. ACORN is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which according its own description, is committed to scoring victories for social and economic justice. It receives millions in taxpayer money to fuel its fight.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the two reporters – actually, the man is a filmmaker and the woman is a college student — made the rounds at various urban offices of ACORN posing as a pimp and a prostitute. In city after city, ACORN employees dispensed sympathetic advice when the pair confided plans to open a brothel featuring underage girls smuggled from El Salvador. In the most recent video, they were even offered help transporting the girls across the Mexican border. They have posted their work at the rate of one video every couple of days, generating a steady drip of trouble for ACORN, and massive discomfort for ACORN-friendly politicians.

Commentators on the right have excoriated the mainstream media for failure to immediately report this story.  This is day five, and the mainstream media are still ignoring it, one of them bellowed after the third video dropped.

Most of these commentators are highly placed in dominant TV and radio news-talk outlets. Ironically, most of them have never spent a single day of their lives as a working reporter, which used to be the required route to the kind of positions they hold.  Most of them could, if they wanted to, walk across the hall and encounter a working reporter who might explain that just because something potentially explosive finds its way into a newsroom, spotlighting it ten minutes later is not a good practice.

Try for just a moment to imagine that you are the biased, lazy, dumb reporter in the biased, lazy, dumb MSM newsroom on the day the first secret ACORN tape arrives.

REPORTER: Hey boss, it’s a couple of white kids posing as sex workers, and the nonprofit organization is telling them how to evade taxes and engage in human trafficking.

NEWS DIRECTOR: Wow… my news instincts tell me there’s a lot more to this…  I predict before it’s over, you’ll see nonprofit employees confess to murdering their husbands and running their own whorehouses.

REPORTER: Geez, really?

NEWS DIRECTOR: Never fails, kid. The crazier it looks, the more serious it is. Trust me, this is big stuff! Get right to work, we’ll run this at the top of the hour.

REPORTER: Yes, sir!  Right away.

Sorry. Even the biased, lazy, dumb media are still more careful and skeptical than that.

There are most certainly reporters already working on ACORN. Through normal journalistic methods, the ACORN story would take years to play out. The organization has a lot of protective links to power, and a large reservoir of good will in many communities. Very little, short of this hidden-camera sting could have pushed ACORN so squarely into the foreground, nor pushed Washington to look so hard at ACORN’s warts. (OK, it wasn’t a hard look. More like a quick peek and a loud gasp. Rarely has Washington moved so fast to pull its support.)

The filmmaker and the student may have altered history at the same tectonic level as the MSM’s fabled Woodward and Bernstein. The filmmaker and the student deserve the Brass Balls award for courage, the Bright Bulb award for ingenuity, and the Dumb Luck award for earthshaking results. They broke open a huge story, but Woodward and Berstein they are not. Who knows where it will lead, but understand this: finishing it will require know-how that our two intrepid citizen reporters don’t have. Go to it, MSM.