Bad journalists

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 3, 2014

The last few days leading up to what is widely expected to be a Democrat massacre in the midterm elections tomorrow has highlighted much of the worst in the mainstream media. The New York Times last week published an article decrying the "Bumpkinification of the Midterm Elections"  because the GOP looks likely to take over control of the Senate. Today they published an op-ed piece calling for the cancellation of midterm elections all together. Of course, this type of government reform wasn't on their radar in 2006 when Democrats swept into power in Congress against an unpopular president.

As is always the case with the mainstream media, it's politics above principle—journalistic principles included.

If you're ticked off about the mainstream media's coverage (and sometimes non-coverage) of this election cycle, and you're wondering where they learned it, they learned it from guys like Dan Gillmor. Gillmor is an instructor at Arizona State University and author of "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, for the People." Believe it or not, this book sits on my bookshelf. I believe I picked it up for $1 many years ago at the Union-Tribune's regular book sale for charity where they sell books sent to the paper to be reviewed. I don't believe Gillmor's book was reviewed, which is how I came into possession of it. (For the record, I haven't actually got around to reading it.)

Now that Gillmor is a J-school instructor, he's free to be himself and cast off the pretension at objectivity that was a long-ago staple of journalists. Over the past few days, some of his tweets were ironically retweeted by some people I follow on Twitter, and I started periodically taking a look at what he was saying.

The tweet that first caught my eye was this one:

For the record, I don't approve of the mailer in the linked story. However, the only person likely swayed or intimidated by such a mailer is a low-information voter that probably should stay home anyway. And, if the person is interested enough to actually read the dang thing, they wouldn't be worried anyway. The first sentence is:

This document serves as a notification to you, as a resident of Kentucky and a registered voter in the aforementioned Commonwealth, of fraudulent information that is being deliberately spread to voters in your area. [emphasis in original]

Frankly, I find this far more intimidating, but I didn't bother searching back to see if Gillmor was equally concerned about this type of behavior.


Late yesterday, Gillmor posted another tweet defending Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu's take on her constituents as a bunch of racist, sexist bigots: 

Yep, those Louisiana Republicans are so racist the governor of the state is an Indian-American. I suspect they may be doing it wrong.

So, I responded.

Note the capitalized letters at the beginning of my response. But before I get into that, let's get Gillmor's retort.

Guilty. Guilty as charged. Yes, I fundamentally changed his words. But you'd think someone whose "primary gig is teaching digital media literacy" would be twitter-literate.


The MT indicates that I modified the original tweet. Combine the two together and I was sarcastically disagreeing with him and indicated that I'd changed his words. And it's not like this is uncommon.

I thought my responses merited some response from Gillmor, but none was forthcoming. Causing me to wonder why.

Well, that would explain it. A j-school professor teaching digital media to the next generation of journalists who is deficient in his craft and so intellectually insecure that he can't and won't engage someone who disagrees with his politics.

There's a term for this: Hack.

And the final irony, from the precis of Gillmor's book:

Journalism in the 21st century will be fundamentally different from the Big Media that prevails today. We the Media casts light on the future of journalism, and invites us all to be a part of it.

Everyone except me, I guess.


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November 2014



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