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Newsroom Magazine contributors John Haueisen and Gordon Shaffer have made their list and most likely checked it more than twice. What’s on that list are their nominations for the best article candidates for 2008. If you’ve not read these articles, now might be a good time to do so. If you like John and Gordon’s choices, want to identify your favorite, or take issue with which articles, essays or editorials made their lists, you can email either contributor at the links listed below.
No One Is Entitled To Steal The American Dream is a tremendously good article. I think it may have been the best of the year — what do you think?
Gordon Shaffer, Denver
In the last quarter century the nation’s television broadcasters have assumed business ownership entitles them to do whatever they damn please. Under guise of entitlement they openly defile traditional American values and overtly dis-inform those citizens least able to differentiate what is real from what is not. They do this around the clock, in every city, large and small, absent either constraint or condemnation in what has become an endless quest for financial gratification. All without concern for the immense consequences to their communities, their nation and generations yet unborn.
Robert Butche, Newsroom Magazine
New York — Television news has retreated from its once honored role in American life. Gone are the standards that made broadcast journalism a respected part of the American experience. Gone too are the faces of men and women who mattered, journalists who stood for something more than their personal self-interests.
Among those missing in action are the legendary, creative and visionary network executives who understood that television was an integral part of the fabric of the nation, not separate from it — and surely not a plaything for the wealthy.
Today the television landscape appears bleak — its future uncertain, its credibility in shambles. Why did we squander this most powerful medium? What will be the outcome from NBC reducing, perhaps withdrawing from some or all nightly programming? The questions are many, the answers few.
Today the American nation is in shock, anguished at what happened to our government, economy and leadership position in the world. In wake of financial turmoil, bank collapses, industrial catastrophe and immense job losses brought upon the nation by failed government and ineffective regulation of industries and businesses. Today our economy and our nation is in disarray, yet only the first shoe, of what may be many, has dropped. The business segments put at risk by our national love affair with lassez-faire governmental oversight are many — automobiles, airlines, broadcasting, insurance, telecommunications and on and on. For some business sectors, such as automotive and airlines, the damage is largely visible in failed enterprises, and failing business models. For others, insurance and broadcasting, for example, the consequences are far deeper and far more damaging. So are they largely unseen by a public largely uninformed about issues not covered by television news. Now, as the rattles of reality shake the nation, the largely hidden and unintended consequences of failed journalism are coming to light. The reality will not be pretty, nor the consequences avoided.
Broadcasting’s historic commitment to journalistic excellence and public service is all but gone today. The licensure scheme established to grant monopoly status to broadcasters, in exchange for them serving in the public interest as trustees of public spectrum, is all but forgotten in the rush to make money. Today’s broadcast property owners claim their rights of ownership evidence their entitlement to do as they please with the public spectrum they occupy; to disregard the critical needs of their communities; to debase American culture; to hold hostage our political system and institutions; and to prey upon the less entitled in favor of possessors of wealth.
There is a higher calling — one that rests in an honored realm beyond the ordinary affairs of men. It is a sacred place — having been erected in the traditions of freedom, and consecrated in the blood of those who have paid the ultimate price in pursuing journalism’s enduring quest for truth. It is called The Honorable House Of The Fourth Estate, being that place in the American experience where the bells of freedom ring loud and clear so that all free men and women shall forever know what matters most to their livelihoods, families, communities and nation.
There are limits to the privileges of ownership — as, for example, owning a gun does not entitle you to shoot whomever you like with impunity. While few would argue with such a premise, otherwise well intentioned people will openly argue that broadcasters are free to use their governmentally granted monopoly status entirely, solely, exclusively and specifically for their benefit and only their benefit. The argument is specious on the surface — for few might find similar claims, that the governmentally granted privilege to drive one’s car on a public roadway is a license to run everyone else off the road.
The deregulation of broadcasting is but a single failure in a wave of deregulation legislation that was politically motivated, but which did not conform to a single political ideology. Both political parties embraced deregulation for a variety of political reasons, oftentimes advanced by lobbyists seeking to free business owners to more fully exploit the fruits of ownership.
What we know today is that failed journalism, reporters and editors who refused to ask the difficult questions, or pursue the more complicated stories, contributed to our national ignorance. Just as banks contributed to our deepening financial malaise, so did broadcast journalism contribute to what has become outright theft of our shared American Dream for millions of our fellow citizens.
No one is entitled to steal the American Dream.