The new journalism reflects changing times
Mayor Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest men, recently warned us about the possibility of demonstrations and riots here in the United States. In fact, this country has made it known that it would not countenance interference with peaceful protests occurring in places like Libya, Egypt and Syria. We have supported the demonstrators in those countries and read with horror emerging Twitter and Facebook reports of police beatings and even shootings of young protestors who said they’d had enough. They were willing to demonstrate and die for their principles and the opportunity to make democratic change.
Bloomberg’s prediction that such things might happen here needs some discussion. Like Franklin Roosevelt before him, Michael Bloomberg must know that when repression and wide scale wrongdoing are permitted by government, the whole capitalistic structure is endangered. Progressive capitalists understand full well that when kids can’t get jobs and when programs like Social Security and Medicare are threatened, the whole system is put at risk. Once you deprive the middle class and the poor of their homes and their jobs, you really do risk bringing down the system. That’s one of the main reasons why FDR, another progressive capitalist, created Social Security.
Like many in this country, you may believe that some of the major banks and corporate giants have remained unpunished for their misdeeds and wrongdoing. You may believe that the richest among us are undertaxed. As I write this, congressional laws that have been enacted (Dodd-Frank) to stop some of the more egregious of these excesses are under attack by the Republicans in Congress. They are yelling that efforts to stop wrongdoing are “job killers.”
To put it mildly, a lot of young people who can’t find jobs have had it. They are beginning to take to the streets. The same thing is happening in Israel, where young people in the same middle class demographic are protesting. You almost never see these kinds of protests in the United States and when you do, they are either ignored or minimized by most of the major news organizations who are owned by our modern press barons.
In recent times, we have witnessed a burgeoning “new journalism.” Now anyone with an iPhone can be as significant a journalist as someone working for a traditional newspaper or broadcaster. Naturally, some of the old style journalists insist that they alone are journalists and a protestor with an iPhone who is posting on Twitter or Facebook is something else. That’s nonsense, of course. The whole concept of who is a journalist has changed because of emerging technology. The idea that you are only a journalist if you work for Rupert Murdoch and his hand-picked right wing reportorial staff toeing the company line is absurd. I recently saw a piece in the New York Times (another group of progressive capitalists) that referenced video taken by young protestors at a Wall Street rally. To put it mildly, the stuff was chilling. A kid asks an officer a question and is thrown on the ground. Other kids are left bleeding, constrained by handcuffs so tight that one young protestor’s hand is turning colors.
Under the old rules of journalism, a newspaper might say “There were several arrests made,” but when you see kids beaten and crying, you get a very different impression. That is not to say that there won’t be some who see it and say, “Good, they deserve it.” Most will not. No matter what, it is very different than reading about it in the morning papers. The paper becomes a prism while YouTube lets you see it all in real time. The smart papers are referencing the videos. If Bloomberg turns out to be right, we’ll be seeing some serious disturbances and a lot more new citizen journalism.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 9/26/11