Kim du Toit has been following the news out of Africa ever since he left. Recently he linked to an unusual piece by journalist Kevin Meyers that broke the PC mold and ground it into dust, Africa is giving nothing to anyone -- apart from AIDS. In fact, I'm shocked that it made it through those famous layers of editorial oversight and actually saw
This afternoon, Kim linked to a follow on - the expected reaction to Mr. Meyers' bit of heresy.
But instead of more heresy, Mr. Meyers has committed apostasy.
In 2003 in an op-ed about Walter Cronkite coming out of the liberal closet, FOX News host Eric Burns wrote these words:
The majority of young men and women who enter journalism do so not because they want to report the news but because they want to make a difference in society. In other words, they want to report certain kinds of news. They do not want to convey facts or explain processes; they want to shine spotlights on abuse. In some cases they are motivated by idealism; in others, by the hope that some of the light will reflect back on them.It's a good piece. Being on FOX he could get away with it. But not, I think, Mr. Meyers. In his piece Writing what I should have written so many years ago, he says:
The people of Ireland remained in ignorance of the reality of Africa because of cowardly journalists like me. When I went to Ethiopia just over 20 years ago, I saw many things I never reported -- such as the menacing effect of gangs of young men with Kalashnikovs everywhere, while women did all the work. In the very middle of starvation and death, men spent their time drinking the local hooch in the boonabate shebeens. Alongside the boonabates were shanty-brothels, to which drinkers would casually repair, to briefly relieve themselves in the scarred orifice of some wretched prostitute (whom God preserve and protect). I saw all this and did not report it, nor the anger of the Irish aid workers at the sexual incontinence and fecklessness of Ethiopian men. Why? Because I wanted to write much-acclaimed, tear-jerkingly purple prose about wide-eyed, fly-infested children -- not cold, unpopular and even "racist" accusations about African male culpability.RTWT.
Eric Burns also wrote:
As Cronkite so famously said for so many years, closing his newscasts: "And that's the way it is."In large part those greater numbers are in the alternative media, like bloggers. In a 2004 Jewish World Review piece, Jack Kelly wrote about the decline of newspapers (did you see that the NYT's profits are off 82% this quarter?). He said in his piece Newspaper sale$ decline should be blamed on the journos:
But it isn't. At least, not to the extent that it used to be. For what has happened over the years is that the liberal influence in journalism has become so pervasive that alternatives have developed, and there are more alternatives to liberal bias today, it seems to me, than there have ever been before---more newspapers, more magazines, more talk radio programs, and even an all-news cable network that strenuously avoids a left-leaning emphasis on issues of public concern.
Journalism, in other words, is now attracting, and in greater numbers than ever, those who want to shine a spotlight on a different kind of abuse - the one-sided presentation of news.
Journalists rank near the bottom of the professions in honesty and ethical standards, according to Gallup's annual survey. Last year, only 21 percent of respondents said newspaper reporters had high or very high ethical standards.Mr. Meyer's admission is, I think, more evidence of this.
An awful lot of you don't trust us to get our facts straight, to tell both sides of the story, or to put the news in context. For that, more and more of you are turning to web logs, or "blogs." There were hardly any blogs five years ago. There are more than four million today. There could be eight million by the next election.
Blogs provided you with information we in the "mainstream" media didn't want you to have, such as John Kerry's "Christmas in Cambodia," and the fact that the documents on which Dan Rather and CBS were relying for a hit piece on President Bush's National Guard service were forgeries.
Journalists tend not to like bloggers, because they report on errors we make. Dan Rather and former New York Times editor Howell Raines are unemployed chiefly because of the vigilance and tenacity of bloggers. (We journalists rarely turn the spotlights we use on business leaders and government officials on ourselves.)
People who work at journalism full time ought to be able to do a better job of it than people for whom it is a hobby. But that's not going to happen as long as we "professional" journalists ignore stories we don't like and try to hide our mistakes. We think of ourselves as "gatekeepers." But there is not much future in being a gatekeeper when the walls are down.
Robert Bartley, editor emeritus of The Wall Street Journal once wrote:
The opinion of the press corps tends toward consensus because of an astonishing uniformity of viewpoint. Certain types of people want to become journalists, and they carry certain political and cultural opinions. This self-selection is hardened by peer group pressure. No conspiracy is necessary; journalists quite spontaneously think alike. The problem comes because this group-think is by now divorced from the thoughts and attitudes of readers.Perhaps finally that may be starting to change. Unfortunately it may be too little, too late.
Perhaps Mr. Meyer will be able to get a job with FOX News. Or maybe he can go the Michael Totten/Michael Yon route and become an independent blogger/journalist existing on what he can earn directly from his readers. That is, if he escapes the clutches of the Irish Thought Police.
I recommend emigration to the U.S. and asylum from political persecution. I wish him a lot of luck.