Saturday, September 17, 2005
Journalism jobs: I've been in the journalism business for more than 11 years now. I've worked at four newspapers, each larger than the last. I've worked for passionate, intelligent, talented editors -- and others who were none of those. I've worked for three different newspaper companies. I've worked in two different states.
Keeping that in mind, there are only a handful of newspapers in this country that I just can't see ever working for. The Wenatchee World is probably the first one that comes to mind -- and for one primary reason: the bogus child-sex witch hunt that went on there in the mid-90s. Even after it became apparent that the prosecutions were deeply flawed, the newspaper had already swallowed the police theory hook, line and sinker. When the full extent of the falsehoods came to the fore, the paper blindly stuck to the story that had sold so many newspapers. As far as I know, no heads rolled at that publication, and I couldn't work in a place that had practiced such bad journalism and cared so little for the truth.
I don't think I could handle working for The Washington Times either. It's not that it does bad journalism, the defense reporting is first rate, and the political reporting isn't half-bad either. What makes the paper off-limits for me is the taint that the paper's owner, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, puts on it. Moon may have nearly nothing to do with the product that appears on paper every day, but the taint is still there.
Up until a few years ago, that probably would've completed my list. Two newspapers out of thousands. But what's gone on the past few years at The New York Times has resulted in what was once considered America's best newspaper into that same category. I've been criticized for calling that publication a propaganda rag, but every day that the Times publishes, there is more and more evidence to support my contention. The Times does a lot of really good journalism, but its liberal bias seeps off of the editorial pages and into the news so regularly, that the paper should just come out and reject the objective reporting method being taught in journalism schools across the country.
The story that really turned me against the Times was the paper's hatchet job on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth last year. For weeks, the Times ignored their very existence and the impact it was having on Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. Just when the silence reached deafening proportions, the paper ran a 100+ column inch story, complete with charts detailing the vast conspiracy behind the Swift Boat Vets. The Times smeared these men who had served their country through innuendo. It wasn't until the very end of the story -- somewhere around inch 120 -- that the Times bothered to report that at least one of the Swift Boat Vets charges, that Kerry had not spent Christmas in Cambodia in 1968, was true and that Kerry had disavowed that 35+ year old story. Of course, when deciding where to trim their story for an easier-to-handle abridged version for their news service subscribers, the truth of one of the Swift Boat Vets' charges was left on the cutting room floor.
The Times is a once-great newspaper and it would require a sea-change to return it to its former place of respect and admiration. The abandonment of a committment to truth (or at least accuracy) on the editorial pages, is a sign that this turnaround won't be happening anytime soon.
On a lighter note: If anyone from any other newspaper is interested in hiring me to write for their editorial pages, then drop me a line and we can talk.