Ebbing Of The Fourth Estate
As a teenager I wanted to go into the ministry and my early studies somewhat lead me in that direction. I attended college freshman year in Kentucky, which did not fare well, and I soon found myself in the military during the Viet Nam War.
Upon returning to the US, after four years in the service, I attended Kent State University and found myself majoring in Telecommunications. It would seem a natural field to pursue since I had been given a very good voice. A good friend of my father, and the then Director of Broadcasting at KSU, Walton Clarke, urged me to consider broadcasting as a career.
I didn’t have a desire to be a DJ but my love of Politics, History and Human Events, made the News field a logical choice.
As it would happen, four months after returning from overseas, I was News Director of WKSU Radio on that fateful day, May 4th, 1970. WKSU has come a long way from those early days and we didn’t enjoy the NPR status and link on the worldwide web which the University and station now have obtained. I look back on those years as a great learning plus valuable life experience for myself.
Now to explain the other idols. First there was “News Commentator” Howard K Smith, who my father had great respect, and later “Newsman” Peter Jennings. I admired them for their professionalism plus their integrity and morned their loss both from television and the good they did in their personal lives.
Last years the loss of Jim McKay, Charlie Jones and Tim Russart, it would appear the age of the non bias reporter, both sports and news, would be ebbing away and in its place comes the “tabloid shlock” of reporters and so-called “news consultants”.
Just look at “polictos” Karl Rove and Mike Huckabee being added to Fox News and you get the sense that fairness and getting the story right has given way to “opinion journalism”.
The Bill “Oh Reallys”, “Vanity Hannity”, can’t hold a candle to the Smiths; Jennings; Cronkites; Morrows and Russarts in news journalism and sadly with each passing we get closer to a world of more “slant” than substance, more opinion than fact, and it’s passed off as fact.
Getting the story right is less important then “swaying” the public view. Informing the public is less important than entertaining the “core base”. Research and facts are second to hidden verb-age and innuendo. It is very disappointing that lately the “liberal” media can be seen “tilting” their stories, tho not with Joseph Goebbels like precision of Fox News and the far-right.
Once we have lost those icons of TV News Journalism of the past, lost their values and respect that they have for their craft, I fear we will lose the sword of truth and the “fourth estate”, which was never to take sides but always intended to serve the public good, will just becomes another PR Agency.