Losing the News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy (Institutions of American Democracy)
a book by Alex Jones
(our site's book review)
In Losing the News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex S. Jones offers a probing look at the epochal changes sweeping the media, changes which are eroding the core news that has been the essential food supply of our democracy.
At a time of dazzling technological innovation, Jones says that what stands to be lost is the fact-based reporting that serves as a watchdog over government, holds the powerful accountable, and gives citizens what they need. (Jones seems not to realize that these things were lost long ago and the media has been not a watchdog but a lapdog ever since.) In a tumultuous new media era, with cutthroat competition and panic over profits, the commitment of the traditional news media to serious news is fading. Indeed, as digital technology shatters the old economic model, the news media is making a painful passage that is taking a toll on journalistic values and standards. Journalistic objectivity and ethics are under assault, as is the bastion of the First Amendment.
Jones says that what stands to be lost is the fact-based reporting that (tries to) serve as a watchdog over government, (tries to) hold the powerful accountable, and (tries to) give citizens what they need
Jones characterizes himself not as a pessimist about news, but a realist. The breathtaking possibilities that the web offers are undeniable, but at what cost? Pundits and talk show hosts have persuaded Americans that the crisis in news is bias and partisanship. Not so, says Jones. The real crisis is the erosion of the iron core of news, something that hurts Republicans and Democrats alike. See The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote, Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market, Fake News in Real Context, Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era, and Fake News: How Propaganda Influenced the 2016 Election, A Historical Comparison to 1930's Germany.
Losing the News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy depicts an unsettling situation in which the American birthright of fact-based, reported news is in danger. But it is also a call to arms to fight to keep the core of news intact.
Jones' book is a call to arms to fight to keep the core of news intact
"An impassioned call to action to preserve the best of traditional newspaper journalism."—The San Francisco Chronicle
"Must reading for all Americans who care about our country's present and future. Analysis, commentary, scholarship and excellent writing, with a strong, easy-to-follow narrative about why you should care, makes this a candidate for one of the best books of the year."—Dan Rather
[For preserving democracy] "Wouldn't the passage of tough sunshine laws that required Web publication of all nonclassified government information and proceedings do more for accountability than preserving the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Detroit News?"—Slate, Jack Shafer
Actually, Wikileaks is doing what our Congress will not do—give us the truth by shining light in dark places—instead we get mainstream media propaganda fed to them by neocons and oligarchs and the CIA. The proposed tough sunshine laws are a great idea. But since whenever "sunshine" was allowed to shine in dark places in the Obama administration or into intelligence agencies, the brave whistleblowers ended up in jail. So tough sunshine laws are about as likely as pigs learning to fly.
Tough sunshine laws are about as likely as pigs learning to fly
In reviewing Jones' book, Shafer has hit on something here. We need transparency in government as well as accountability more than we need more or stronger newspapers. Recall that a major use of newspapers are as bird cage liners to catch bird droppings. Recall that Pew Research Center says that only 20% of us often get our news from newspapers—they are just not as convenient as TV or the Internet, and they have no hyperlinks or videos. And you won't see laptops used as bird cage liners any time soon! See Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom, and Security, Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market, and National Security and Double Government.
Ret's see—WSJournal pages go undel Petey, NYTimes goes undel Tweetie, and USA Today goes undel Jojo
Pulitzer Prize journalist Jones . . . argues that the demise of the newspaper industry is corroding the iron core of information that is at the center of a functioning democracy. Increasingly, he contends, what is passed off as news is actually entertainment; puff pieces have replaced the investigative reporting that allows citizens to make informed decisions. We seem poised to be a nation overfed but undernourished, a culture of people waddling around, swollen with media exposure, and headed toward an epidemic of social diabetes, he writes. Sifting through a history of the media that touches on such technological improvements as the Gutenberg press and the telegraph, Jones focuses on the Internet and the damage he believes it has wrought on print newspapers. Weaving in the story of his own family's small newspaper in Tennessee, Jones presents an insider's look at an industry in turmoil, calling plaintively for a serious examination of what a nation loses when its newspapers fold. Unfortunately, he offers few answers for saving print journalism, but his compelling narrative will incite some readers to drum up solutions of their own.—Publishers Weekly
The Internet is undermining the newspaper industry and, in the process, steadily replacing the world as we know it with a frighteningly unknown future. Pulitzer-Prize winning author Alex Jones, in this book, comes to his themes honestly as the scion of a small-town Tennessee newspaper family. It's no wonder he feels threatened.
However, there is considerable reason for apprehension over the decline of America's major newspapers. Reflecting shrunken profits, repeated staff layoffs, closed news bureaus, and greater reliance on syndicated material, the nation's once-fat dailies are slimming down at a terrifying pace. In place of basing our views on the newspapers' often earnest efforts at "objectivity," we are increasingly basing our views on the unedited diatribes to be found on the likes of Fox "News" and the daily blogosphere.
The perils for democracy in America are obvious. We are and will be breeding stupidity, demagoguery, and bias rampantly. But democracy—not so much. The newspapers are dying and adapting to publishing on the Internet just to stay afloat, and there's not much anyone can do about it other than "Adapt or Die." News is aimed at confirming and validating pre-existing beliefs to make audiences comfortable and placated like well-fed sheep so their defenses are down and they buy the advertisers' products and increase network news shows' ratings.
What is passed off as news is actually entertainment; puff pieces have replaced the investigative reporting that allows citizens to make informed decisions. Goodbye democracy, hello Idiocracy
People are cancelling their subscriptions to their newspapers because almost nothing in them is serious news. It's all fluff and puff and disguised ads. It would be informative to find out how many people subscribe to have bird cage bottom covers, puppy area covers, good packing material for shipping, paper mache ingredients for kids' projects, shaping material for building plaster model train mountains or tunnels or just dioramas for scene building hobbyists, and finally as a free drop cloth for painting projects. News? What news? Haven't read the damn thing in years. But the stuff is so damned useful! Cancel our subscriptions? Hell no!
Newspapers are so useful—bird cage poop-catchers, painting dropcloths, shaping material for building plaster model train tunnels or mountains, etc.
Jones's insists that ethics, objectivity, and accountability need to find their way into the center of both our new (digital), and old media world. Rights and responsibilities in media are put into perspective. We have lost much and are on track to lose much more.
Jones may be something of a romantic, but he is not a Luddite (shown). He acknowledges that the future will center on digital technology and the Web
"Jones may be something of a romantic, but he is not a Luddite. He acknowledges that the future will center on digital technology and the Web, 'dazzling in its breadth and innovation' and the vehicle of choice for younger audiences. But he does not believe Web sites will ever become Atlas, shouldering the iron ball to sustain foreign bureaus, science and cultural staffs, and investigative teams. . . . What I most question is his verdict on the reality and the potential of the Web. It can handle more than 150 words perfectly well, and hyperlinks can open a panorama of global multimedia sources . . . I love newspapers, too, but in the end what really matters will not be saving newspapers. It will be, as Jones himself says, 'saving the news.'" (Source: The Daily Show, Harold Evans, NY Times)
"Jones provides a forceful argument for a new focus: instead of attempting to reduce partisanship among media outlets in a volatile climate, we should instead aspire to hold them accountable to widely accepted, time-tested standards of responsible journalism as the future emerges."—Pop Tug
People will seek news of assertion that shares beliefs with them—they want opinions that make them feel comfortable—they watch or read news to get their beliefs validated, not to learn
Of course, since people watch or read news to get their beliefs validated, not to learn, Big Media has—and will continue to—let ratings (which reduces down to market driven, which further reduces down to money) be their guide. People will seek news of assertion that shares beliefs with them—they want opinions that make them feel comfortable. Media outlets that try to be all things to all people may end up serving no one. Plenty of websites or newsmagazines or blogs market themselves as fair and balanced, but the ones who say it the most do it the least.
Everyone has a point of view, and people tune in to friendly news reporters they can relate to. It is making the U.S. more and more polarized to have all this biased reporting trumpeting its unbiased nature, especially since many reporters denigrate other networks, other networks' reporters, and other networks' points of view—to the point of ridiculing them and calling each other liars. This combative approach encourages the team context where viewers/readers root for their team and hate the other team. It is emotionally primitive, and yet undeniably satisfying. Where does this leave Jones' iron core news that tries to be objective and satisfies truth seekers? People just aren't that intellectual—emotional satisfaction trumps truth every day of the week.
As you read farther down in this book review, you'll realize that it seems to be too late to save the news. The most critical stuff has already been usurped by controllers that have no interest in you getting "all the news that's fit to print." They've redefined what is "fit" according to CIA and shadow government and oligarch standards, standards entirely designed to enrich the oligarchs while keeping the public in the dark about embarrassing military, diplomatic, empire building, and/or neocon matters. The press hasn't been truly free for a century. See for yourself: Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.
Without the iron core (traditional news-gathering media—broadcasters, newsmagazines, and newspapers), Jones fears, the public will have little clue about what governments, corporations, politicians, and the wealthy are up to. The logic here is sound, but there are forces at work that make sure that the public will have little clue about what governments, corporations, politicians, and the wealthy are up to anyway. They make sure we only find out what they feel is safe to say. The U.S. neocons were propping up evil dictators in Central and South America and running torture schools, in the 1980s, but the "iron core" heard little about it because the CIA continually planted stories about how the heroic U.S. was overthrowing tyrants and supporting democracy—the opposite of the truth.
We needed public outrage about evil U.S. actions, but what we got from the iron core of lapdog-disguised-as-watchdog press reporters was lazily printing CIA written memos verbatim and when atrocity news made its way up from Central and South America, the iron core swallowed the lie that these were mere communist propaganda. Jones seems blissfully unaware of how things transpired then and are transpiring now. Maybe a bit more investigative journalism was in order. There are thousands of ebooks, blogs, and websites (including ours—The Big Answer) that are full off these truths that the iron core were oblivious to since the 1950s until now, but Jones seems to be living in a nostalgic world of how great things used to be, in spite of the facts that bely this contention.
Jones is correct that outstanding news coverage like what investigative journalists dug up about Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and the NSA surveiiance story has benefited society. But he seems not to know that with few exceptions, the powers-that-be have pulled all the necessary strings so that these types of things will not continue to be dug up. The CIA censors at all the major media outlets do not allow stories about corruption, surveillance, imperialism, empire building to get to the public, so generally only alternate media sites like alternet.org end up reporting such things, so they do not get generally known about. In the meantime, the public gets titillated with uncensored fluff stories of Trump and the media calling each other liars (and they're both right). See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.
The last chapter in which Jones offers potential solutions was disappointing. His willingness to get the federal government involved in helping prop up the newspaper industry is an awful solution that could never happen—unless government employees start defecating money. Twenty trillion dollars of debt is no joke!!national debt
Unless American citizens start defecating money, the debt has put us all in deep doo-doo
Is the Constitutionally guaranteed free press dead? No—not dead, just marginalized into List of alternative media (U.S. political left) where, as far as we can see, CIA censors have no influence. Of course, all our papers consider themselves free. But is this freedom real, partial, or illusory? The U.S. spends a lot of money with neocon dreams such as empire building. But does the mainstream press report it? No. If citizens are not allowed to see any news about this stuff, how can we call ourselves a democracy?
A few neocon oligarchs decide these matters, while we don't even know what the military and our private military are doing in our name. This is oligarchy, not democracy. If our press is censored by the CIA (fact) and little if any imperialistic empire building adventures are learned about by the public, and yet we pay the bills, is this a country with a free press or is it a censored press like in China and Russia and Saudi Arabia and Egypt? The answer: it has been censored since 1917 and reporters are free to investigate whatever they want, but their stories are going to be censored or deleted if the CIA censors say so, so why bother to write anything that does not conform to the party line and the CW (conventional wisdom—an oxymoron)?
Also, if one keeps submitting actual investigative reporting that annoys CIA censors, guess what happens? In Russia and other repressive regimes, you get a bullet. No bullets here. Worse: you lose your job, your paychecks, your reputation and your career, so it might as well be a bullet since no one will hire you and the rent, the electric bill, the mortgage payment, and the cable bill are all past due. So the U.S. mainstream media are all fluff news and puff news infotainment purveyors—conformists to the core, and controlled by megacorporations of the corporatocracy willing and able to enforce this conformity. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.
Why do you think both candidate Obama and candidate Trump promised to stop U.S. wars and neither did so? It wasn't their decision—like in a democracy. In our oligarchy, what the people want is irrelevant
Some people believe that the mainstream media is an institution that keeps the government in check, and for more superficial things this is true. But for war, international policy, empire building, etc., they don't even try. That is how shadow government neocons are able to control what our military and private military and the taxpaying citizen has no say. Why do you think both candidate Obama and candidate Trump promised to stop U.S. wars and neither did so? It wasn't their decision—like in a democracy. In our oligarchy, what the people want is irrelevant. Democracy is for the people, by the people, of the people, while an oligarchy is for the oligarchs, by the oligarchs, and of the oligarchs. We're more like Russia than we admit. See Politics and Government and Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power. This latter is from Noam Chomsky and IT IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOKS (AND FILMS) EVER WRITTEN, and it's by the preeminent intelletual of our time.
Mainstream media is an institution that pretends to keep the government in check—but for war, international policy, and empire building they don't even try—shadow government neocons keep the media in check via CIA censors
"The newspaper elites, like all dying elites, have built ideological and physical monuments to themselves — look at the new $600 million New York Times headquarters — in the same way the pharaohs decided to construct massive pyramids to their own immortality at the very moment Egyptian civilization fell into irrevocable decline. . . . These elites celebrate a past greatness and era of moral probity that never really existed. Those running newspapers remain blind to their own systemic flaws, which saw them serve as propagandists for the invasion of Iraq and consistent apologists for the criminal class on Wall Street. They have proved unable to adjust to a changing landscape . . . We are entering an age in which the electronic image, endowed with the ability to manufacture its own reality, has thrust us into a state of collective self-delusion." (Source: Chris Hedges on Alex S. Jones' 'Losing the News' , Chris Hedges, truthdig)
The "state of collective self-delusion" we are in is more than electronic images having the ability to manufacture their own reality. Propaganda from the corporatocracy, oligarchs, and shadow government neocons and the CIA supports delusions of democracy and a free press that do not truly exist in reality and these delusions would exist independent of any images—electronic or otherwise. Radio and newspapers could quite easily support such intentionally created illusory aspects of democracy and a free press.
U.S. is building an empire which they hope will outshine the 500-year reign of the British Empire—however, countries today do NOT want to be colonies
U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington! The game is rigged.
While our military does empire building the media reports their attempts at "democracy creation." But the U.S. has known for decades that exploiting countries is easier to do with propped up dictators whom we make rich to look the other way as we swipe their natural resources. Democracy is a win-win proposition where the country selling resources and the country buying them both come out ahead. Our corporatocracy found out long ago that this would reduce corporate profits. Playing fair means we sacrifice some money. Playing unfairly via CIA-imposed dictators means we sacrifice morals, honesty, honor, the environment, and thousands or even millions of human lives as the scumbag dictators set up torture camps with our help and force the resisting populace to conform to a degraded lifestyle or suffer grievously.
US dropping a little democracy on some country
Letting neocons run the decisions in Washington is like letting a fox guard a henhouse
The Neocon plan is to pretend good intentions, speak doublespeak (e.g., Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Patriot Act), keep everyone confused, pretend to give while taking, create an empire of dependent "colonies" while having our leaders prattle on about empowering independence, freedom, and democracy. Basically, SHAKE THEIR HAND WHILE PICKING THEIR POCKET. The end result is to be world hegemony. If not, attack and rob more countries, rinse, repeat, and see if world hegemony has been attained yet. If not, attack and rob more countries, rinse, repeat, and see if world hegemony has been attained yet . . . ad infinitum.
The Neocon plan: for world hegemony, shake their hand while picking their pocket
Let neocons make that fatal over-the-cliff leap alone if they must—the critical issue here is whether or not we let them convince us to take the U.S. or the world with them
Guess which one of these moral choices (fairness or unfairness) have been made ever since the 1953 coup in Iran and since Reagan was president and beyond until now? And Chris Hedges knows these things, since Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, West Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans. See Unspeakable, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion and Democracy—an American Delusion.
NY Times Headquarters
The newspaper elites have built monuments to themselves, like the New York Times headquarters, just as the pharaohs decided to construct massive pyramids to their own immortality at the very moment Egyptian civilization fell into irrevocable decline
"My problem with both Jones and this current consensus is that, partly as a result of the internet and also because of our greater understanding of the role of the media in society, even the pursuit of objectivity is becoming something of a chimera. For the very notion of objectivity avoids addressing a huge range of questions about the nature of 'truth', 'facts', 'balance'—indeed, all the sacred cows of so-called objective journalism." (Source: Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy, Times Higher Education)
The very notion of objectivity avoids addressing a huge range of questions about the nature of 'truth', 'facts', 'balance'—indeed, all the sacred cows of so-called objective journalism