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Forty Years Before The Masthead

Is the media dishonest? Not the mainstream media, but I remember Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee’s comment about printing lies. He said yes, the newspaper prints lies; when it’s told lies by interviewees and sources. There have been rare exceptions for fraud, but the vast majority of mainstream journalists work very hard to find the facts. It’s a simple matter of pride.

Back in the last century when I first joined the Fourth Estate in Chicago, I noticed that all the reporters had very worn, unpolished shoes. I came to realize it was a sign of honor, a badge of aggressive fact-finding, an unrelenting search for the story. That was when there were at least five dailies in town and the competition for a scoop was intense. There was no time to worry about shoes. I put my trust in the mainstream media, and I know the mainstream media is getting it right.

Why do I know this? The extremes hate them. The left hates them because they’re too cautious, “corporate”; they’ve sold out for the almighty dollar, they just want to sell papers. The right hates them because they’re “crooked,” they’re liberal, they can’t control them. I always figured that if the extremes hated us, we must’ve been doing something right. I can’t vouch for the fringe outlets. They are not much better that the fake news story outlets we’ve heard so much about lately. Their bias shows on every page, left or right. Every page is the editorial page, and it leans far one way or the other. Their goal is to advance an extreme agenda.

Someone once said that the news has a liberal bias. Conservatives don’t much like new stuff; a famous conservative columnist said that most new things are regrettable. And liberals? They’re never, ever satisfied with the status quo. But let’s face it, all of us––journalists and readers––carry around a lifetime of prejudice that sooner or later will find a comforting outlet in print or electronic media.

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