Professional journalists are all over the talk shows and opinion pages with arguments on whether one Julian Assange is a legitimate journalist/publisher with his “Wikileaks” website publication of classified memos and reports from America’s several wars and general foreign policy networks. The general reluctance to admit that the “world wide web” is a new and comprehensive medium, in which anybody can be a journalist for the simple effort of keeping a journal, is reflected in the efforts to define “journalism” in terms of college degrees and studies in copy book style and form. The post Watergate enthusiasm for media careerism raised popular respect for the trade, and societies for self congratulatory awards in reporting blossomed. The historic role of reporter, (often a disreputable would be novelists with drinking problems), was replaced by Robert Redford asking polite questions of political class housewives. The real life model for that version of journalist, Bob Woodward, built his career on inside tips and info from government sources and never had to cover the dirty daily details of local murders and traffic tragedies.
Some talking heads in the media game claim that the true standard for being a legitimate journalist is being paid, with the implied addendum that the more you are paid the better a reporter you are. If you are actually a good reporter, some corporate numbers cruncher will move you up to anchor or editor or program director, posts that will wilt whatever creative blooms might have been in the daily routine of grinding events into info-sausage.
Of course, getting paid for thinking and writing is the best of all possible worlds, providing you can do either with a degree of accuracy and style. Unfortunately, in our corporate cum political world the media do not hire and promote solely on the basis of quality product. Editors are hired by publishers, most of whom have strong political beliefs that they expect to be reflected in their owned and operated venues. The glowing example of this trend is Fox News, and its other Murdoch empire outlet, the Wall Street Journal. Murdoch maintains deniability of manipulating the news by hiring Roger Ayles, who has never pretended to anything approaching objectivity. Ayles birthed O’Reilly, who begat Glen Beck and Sean Hannity by Greta Van Susteren and thus is born a new breed of journalist. And you know they’re good by what they’re paid.
Meanwhile, comes Julian Assange , dedicated to the idea that knowing the details of what’s really happening is a good step towards democracy, liberty and all the rest of that naïve idealism that all thinking twentieth century man ha come to view with sardonic skepticism. He reports the news in its manifest entirety, to let his readers decide what it all means.
Beside, he must be a real journalist. He’s published in the New York Times.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.