Friday, January 9, 2009


Your Commander is back in action.

I was amazed to read in today’s issue of USA Today a very interesting column by founder Al Neuharth. I strongly suggest you read Al’s comments “MEDIA SHOULD OFFER BUSH A MEA CULPA”, because I never thought anyone in the media would admit their shortcomings.

You can find the brief column by going to

Several months ago I suggested that the media held huge responsibilities to provide appropriate investigative reporting when significant issues confront our government and world events. Thanks to the Chicago Tribune for pushing a long-term investigative project that eventually unearthed disturbing operations of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Unfortunately, due to the changing foundation of the business model of today’s print and electronic media newspapers, radio and TV has been forced to cut expensive investigative reporting across the board. The public has paid a heavy price from this reduction of a vital basic service, and newspapers and newscasts alike have lost substantial viewers.

I believe that our country would not be suffering the severity of our current economic climate had media done the job of digging out mismanagement, unethical operations, voter fraud, and any number of problems that have suddenly reared their ugly heads. For instance, how could Bernie Madoff been permitted to steal hard earned dollars from both smart and naive investors when the agencies that were obligated to provide oversight were sitting on their hands, despite the fact that for ten years people tried to blow a whistle at the SEC?

The press has long been a watch dog for their readers, but newspapers across the country can no longer afford to allocate funds necessary to support expensive investigative reporting teams. In recent years media has become so enamored with political figures they give “soft” interviews when in fact they should be asking the tough questions. I find the love affair that exists between modern media with the entertainment industry and political figures to be very dangerous to our collective public interests. We seem to have lost our way regarding what real news is.

Although Al Neuharth’s political positions are a little liberal for my comfort zone, he is to be saluted and lauded for establishing one of the very best newspapers in the country…USA Today. USA Today and the Wall Street Journal remain beacons of good journalism, but from there onward the products are thin, and dying by the wayside. The once proud broadsheets such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, even the bankrupt Chicago Tribune, and my local paper are no longer viable operating business models. The Detroit Free Press has announced it will only provide home delivery three days of the week. If you want that paper, you will have to leave your home to get it, or read what is available on the internet. Should newspapers disappear in the coming years, who will be our watchdog? I can only hope that it is not the internet where people can say anything and back it up with nothing.

Your Commander suggests that our country would be much better off if our media owners, news directors, and editors along with government leaders had the courage to admit their shortcomings and get back to the business of delivering the products and services we expect. Honesty and objectivity are one hell of a lot cheaper in the long run than short cuts and dishonesty.


1 comment:

Texas Lieutenant said...

We can only hope that someone will be willing to invest in journalism again and find a way to make a profit even if it is not the obscene profit that big media companies have come to expect. The days of the local media owned by local owners strong enough to stand on their own two feet are rare because so many media outlets are now owned by large companies that are so highly leveraged or so desperate for high margins that they can not afford to take chances. They might still have the manpower to dig into things, but rarely chose to use it for that for fear of lawsuits and expensive hassles. The internet can be a reliable information source. Individual sites must be judged on their standards, just like individual print media, some of which are untrusthworthy rags. Maybe some strong information sources will emerge from this downturn, even if they are not in the places we used to expect them.