What’s Happened to American Journalism?

I got out just in time!  I retired from journalism in the fall of 2015 when the profession was doing well.  But I have learned from our new President that American journalists are a sleazy, low-class mob, or, in his exact words, “the most dishonest human beings on Earth.”

How did this happen? How did so many good people turn corrupt, almost overnight? Honestly, I am baffled, because when I retired the field was chock full of outstanding reporters.  Here are just a few whose work comes to mind:

1) Alissa Rubin of the New York Times, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the plight of Afghan women;

2) the Associated Press team of Robin McDowell, Margie Mason, Esther Htusan and Martha Mendoza, which reported on widespread slavery at sea, making us aware that the fish we eat may well have been caught and processed by men held in virtual slavery on fishing boats. That work also was rewarded with a Pulitzer.

3) Nearly 30 reporters worked together to cover the tragic mass killing in San Bernadino, for which they also received the Pulitzer Prize.

When I retired, Heather Vogell was doing outstanding work for Pro Publica, Jack Gillum was lighting it up for the Associated Press, Steven ErlangerSarah Maslin Nir and Michael Winerip were producing distinguished work for the New York Times, and Paul Solman was telling great stories for my alma mater, the PBS NewsHour.  On the air, Chuck Todd at NBC and Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour were conducting probing interviews that produced valuable insights.

In education, the field I covered for 41 years, the team of Michael LaForgia, Cara Fitzpatrick, and Lisa Gartner of the Tampa Bay Times uncovered the role public officials played in turning local high schools in ‘failure factories.’  For their exposé, they received a Pulitzer Prize.

Oh, and David A Farenthold of the Washington Post was doing extensive reporting on candidate Donald J. Trump’s murky financial dealing, his foundation’s self-dealing, and Mr. Trump’s own checkered sexual past.

I can only come up with two possible explanations for my profession’s fall from grace.

1) It’s possible that all of these reporters have entered into covert alliances with a foreign power, perhaps Russia. Are they really patriotic Americans, or do they have divided loyalties? That needs to be investigated.

2) Another frightening possibility: Journalists may have massive conflicts of interest that is skewing their reporting. Perhaps they have been taking the big bucks they’re making as reporters and secretly investing the money, then doing slanted reporting that benefits them financially.

The only way to find out about possible conflicts of interest is for the American public to see their tax returns. It’s unconscionable for people in positions of public trust, which reporters certainly are, not to release their tax returns.

If you agree, let’s start a petition, calling on all practicing journalists to immediately release their tax returns, so we can find out why our President has informed us about journalism’s corrupt condition.

While I am certainly happy that I am not one of “the most dishonest human beings on Earth,” I want to do my part to help our new President get to the bottom of this, and perhaps help my profession regain its stature.  So, come clean, journalists. Show us  your tax returns now!

One thought on “What’s Happened to American Journalism?

  1. We loved the poem, John, also the recent piece on what is happening to your profession. Keep it up. The country needs you.
    Barbara Shannon


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