CJR Daily: reporters – puppets and pros

Little by little the Illinois press is waking up to the fact that they’re being played by the Illinois public school establishment. Every now and then a media outlet will question something a school district says is a “fact.” All too often, however, issues like funding are still treated by the media as if the press itself was an arm of the government school system.


No greater example of that exists than the issue of aggregate spending on the Illinois public (government) school system. Taxpayers have been increasing funding at double the rate of inflation for years, yet the incompetent managers of the system continue to shriek at the top of their lungs that it’s not enough. No proof is given. All are to take them at their word. Most of the media seems happy to.


A year ago the Columbia Journalism Review contained an article on the subject of medical reporting suggesting that a certification process might help improve media coverage of health care issues. The parallel used by the writer is that of what the American Meteorological Society offers for weather forecast reporters.


We certainly don’t suggest certification for those reporters who cover education issues. In fact, with the ridiculousness of the government run schools it’s easy to imagine the NEA drooling at the prospect of overseeing media coverage even more than it already does and offering certification classes of their own. As it is, the “blob” already has a national P.R. bureaucracy.


While certification isn’t needed, a little old fashioned “journalism” would be welcome.


This paragraph stood out in the CJR article – we’ve inserted the bolded words to make our point. (You can read the original paragraph here.)

“Puppets are journalists who write taxpayer funded government-run school system stories after talking to only one source, or who write directly from news releases, or who accept video news releases without telling viewers the source of the video, or who fail to see or report on conflicts of interest in the dissemination of taxpayer funded government-run school system news and information… They are being manipulated and are allowing their audience to be manipulated as well. Many of them may have been thrown into taxpayer funded government-run school system news coverage without any special training, knowledge or interest. And they may be dealing with producers or news directors who push them to echo the same hype that is seen on all the competing stations or networks.”

If the Pentagon said it was underfunded, would the Illinois media report it as fact?  We doubt it.