When Did Journalism Die in America?

August/18/2015 5:35AM
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I guess its been gradual, like erosion. It came home to me lately as I have been using the sports pages to reaffirm this truth. The editorial pages are so biased and slanted to one perspective its been obvious there for a long time. But, the sports pages, c’mon man, not there too.

The Chicago Bears have played one exhibition game under their new coach and general manager. I watched the game. The Bears won and the team was obviously more professional. From the head coach to the assistants to the players, they seemed better prepared and on the same page. There was not one positive article about the game in the next day’s Chicago Tribune. Did those guys watch same game I watched. Did they see the World Champion Patriots  lose their first game? Do they have any clue what the exhibition season is all about?  Is the job of a sportswriter today to find fault with every team and every aspect of sports? Do we cherish their knowledge of the game so much we want their insight into every flaw? From what I see from their profiles and TV appearances, they were mostly what I would have called waterboys back when I played sports. Geeks who hung out with the teams to be a part of the team.

One wrote in  a feature article for the Tribune about why the Cubs should not trade for Chase Utley of the Phillies.  The cubs are far above 500 and may well make the playoffs due to the job management has done building the team from the minor leagues and not through trades. A remarkable job. Do the Cubs, or the readers of the Tribune, need this smuck’s opinion on how to staff the team? No. Where does this guy come off as the foremost expert about baseball personnel? What has he run other than a word processor?

The attitude of society in general has pervaded the sports pages. We are always quick to fire the coaches and scream at the TV when our teams do poorly. Its part of the fun of being a fan and spectator of the game. But, there was a day when the great sportswriters made writing about sports read like a great novel or even poetry. They wrote about the games and the action and didn’t nit pick the coaches and players and find fault with every aspect of the games.   These chopping hacks we have today couldn’t write for the school paper.

Like so many of our institutions, it starts at the top. Colleges are breaking our young people with their runaway costs. There is no oversight. School systems the same. Government as well. Its not surprising that the publishers and editors of newspapers do not value journalism. They are hanging on by their fingernails since the Internet is where people get their news. To save the sinking ship they just push more of the same, not something new and unique. So, we get slanted, questionable, nasty, and poorly written articles in our newspapers. Journalists taught by biased university professors who think its appropriate to preach their gospel in the print media.

I’m surprised these fools who pose as sportswriters can gain entry to a locker room without a sidearm or a body guard or both. Its obvious they get zero open discussion from any professional sports figure who must distrust them all. So they sit in their offices and play GM and decide if Chase Utley is a good trade and then expect me to value their worthless opinion.

Grantland Rice once wrote:

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction, and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden.”

Besides Rice, two others who were especially notable were Red Smith and Shirley Povich.*

Smith, who ended his career with the New York Times, was hired by the New York Herald Tribune in 1945 and covered sports and sports figures with intelligence and sensitivity. His column became the most widely syndicated of the age.

Smith cared about his writing. On purpose, he wrote simply and elegantly. And he knew how hard it is to do that. He once said there is nothing to writing — all you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and “open a vein.”

Shirley Povich was a man with a woman’s name, but he could write a mean sports story.

They are gone now replaced by sniveling fools who find everything wrong as if that’s why we want to read a sports page. Hell, we already threw your editorial page away unread since only Bernie Sanders would applaud that  body of spin. Oh well, there’s the crossword. Craig’s List took away the value of the classifieds. The business section, don’t make me laugh. You could switch the business writers and the sports writers and no one would notice. Soon you will all go the way of the passenger pigeon.

My Harvard Business professor Ted Levitt said if the railroads knew they were in the transportation business and not the railroad business they would own the airlines. If the newspapers knew they were in the communication business and not preachers in a pulpit dispensing their worthless drivel, they might survive.

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