Sometimes it's interesting to look back at statements of our hopes to see if dreams came true. A small commentary and remembrance about journalism appeared nearly seven years ago in a book I authored, "Days With The Dads." Obviously, my wish that the "yellow journalism" experiencing a resurgence in the electronic media would turn out to be only a temporary phase did not come to pass.
News reporting in the
U.S. has become steadily worse, and
there are no indications it will get better. With only minor changes, my 2008 item
* * * * * * * * * *
By the time I became public relations coordinator at the
McCoy Job Corps Center
in 1967, "yellow journalism" was almost a thing of the past in the U.S. The
practice flourished in the 1890s and early 1900s, when powerful publishers
emphasized sensationalism, bias, and phony images in their newspapers to boost
Although yellow journalism gradually yielded to objectivity in news reporting, some of the bias in images and presentation stayed around a long time. At the extremes in my lifetime were the Capital Times in
Madison, Wisconsin, and the Manchester Union-Leader in New Hampshire. The Cap Times stood ready to flail any
available Republican; the Union-Leader displayed similar antagonism toward
McCoy Job Corps Center was about an equal distance between the
communities of Sparta and Tomah in Wisconsin. News media in Sparta treated us with respect, and often
gave welcome support. Not so in
Tomah. The radio station, especially,
seemed to delight in whacking us below the belt at every opportunity.
I spent several hours preparing my remarks. Three sentences that brought considerable applause were: "I came here after working for the biggest corporation in this State. Our center managers sometimes grappled with more problems in the first few hours of a day than the corporate executives had to deal with in a typical week. But our people faced the challenges, solved every one of the problems, and made the McCoy center a success."
A reporter from the Tomah radio station was taping the proceedings. Starting that afternoon and lasting throughout the next day, the station played my comments as part of its news reports. However, the last of the three sentences was omitted.
Unfortunately, the yellow journalism practiced by the Tomah radio station made a comeback in 21st century electronic news media. Fox News obviously slanted its television presentations and images to support archconservative political views. MSNBC was accused of doing the same thing on the liberal side. Various talk show hosts were even worse. Let us hope this is a passing fad and not a trend back to what would be an undesirable norm once again.
* * * * * * * * * *