Last night Senate Republicans effectively shut out President Obama’s bill to fund public employees – teachers, emergency personnel, etc. It is clear that Republicans are willing to do anything to scuttle this administration, even if it destroys the nation in the process. Republicans, with assist of powerful corporate voices, are obstructing any govt progress, demanding 60% supermajority for ordinary votes, filibustering, rejecting appointments, holding budgets hostage.
These powerful interests are enabled by a confused or misguided media who have replaced genuine objectivity for mere bilateralism. To be truly objective, a journalist must find and relate the truth of a matter, not just relate a narrative that will get eyeballs. Journalism is NOT just any other kind of writing. It should be more akin to technical writing than fiction; relating the FACTS first, tell the STORY only as it reflects the reality shown by the facts.
A journalist whose primary motive is to find a story will always find one, but it may not be the story that actually informs the public. Because we all have unconscious stories and motives running like a background soundtrack in our head, the story this journalist may be telling is probably her own. If instead she gathers facts about the events or ideas and builds a framework to relate those facts, whether or not they have a narrative arc, she will be a more accurate reporter.
Scanning headlines would lead one to believe that Congres is in deadlock, and that no one in either house is willing to do anything. The facts suggest otherwise: that a small but extremely wealthy – and therefore powerful – groups of people have bought lawmakers through a combination of campaign contributions and prewritten legislation that overworked staff can plug-and-play into law, and that these laws support and strengthen the interests of the groups that provided them.
The reader need look no further than the billionaire Koch Brothers and their foundations for an example.
An even more insidious one is Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp uses his money to buy influence and his media empire to wield it.
We are not sliding, we have sliden, into a process where corporate interests and gvernment have aligned, to the benefit of those who hold that corporate power. Some parts of the public (Tea Party members manipulated by manufactured nostalgia) have fallen for a narrative that this is acceptable, because they too can some day maybe if they’re really lucky, be a part of that power infrastructure. The American Dream morphed into a moving sidewalk, and if you’re one of the lucky few, you can hop on and fast track past all the rest of the schlubs.
Another part has found itself gathered together to express a shared grief: loss of jobs, loss of identity, loss of hard earned savings, loss of dignity, loss of hope.
It strikes me just now, as I’m typing, that a journalist looking for narrative could take a turn as sociologist and start gathering case studies. Just start talking to people, one at a time, and share their stories. A journalist as fact teller could look back from the narratives, look at the statistics, look at the job numbers and meltdown facts, and find the events and their instigators, and report the history and timelines.
It feels like the power establishment is looking to the populace to actually fix the problems. Thing is, we don’t know how. We listen to the stories you tell us and then pick one of you on election day. If we knew how to make it All Better, we would. That’s what we hired you for.