Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reporter's Question: How Do You Pay For It?

As Walter Pincus points out in today's Washington Post, "Iraq and Afghanistan are the first U.S. wars in which the American public was not asked to pay a cent in additional taxes."   We put it on the credit card, and as Pincus asks, "what were we thinking?"

A better question is why wasn't the press asking?   Why weren't reporters at every local newspaper and television station asking their members of Congress why they approved of putting a war on the national credit card?  All politics is local.  Scan the archives of your newspaper and local TV stations.  How many polled their members of Congress to find out why the members wanted to charge the war instead of paying for it?   We have a huge war debt because the local reporters failed to ask their members of Congress a simple, direct question.

Don't hold your breath waiting for reporters to ask questions or for members of Congress to answer.  When my reporting students sent certified letters to the Ohio Congressional delegation, letters that included the student's name, phone, and email making a response incredibly easy, most members did not respond to a simple request asking about an important topic:  healthcare.

But the failure is not with members of Congress.   And the failure is not with local reporters.  Let's change the topic to the present and run through the same scenario, i.e., ask a basic question to hold the member accountable.

How does every member of your state's delegation feel about banning the sale of assault weapons and large capacity gun magazines?   Can you find that story posted on your local newspaper or TV web site?  Why do local news organizations fail to ask questions that need to be asked and fail to hold their members of Congress accountable?   That's not a problem with the reporters, that's a management problem. Why are the heads of Belo and Scripps and Gannett and Tribune not demanding such simple direct reporting be done?

The media industry is undergoing an incredible upheaval, but those who will not only survive but also thrive will be those that decide to do news that matters instead of blather that doesn't.  

When journalism fails, bad things happen.   And when journalism fails, so will businesses that have forgotten that journalism is their product.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Direct Gun Questions

It doesn't get any easier than this.   Does your member of Congress support or oppose banning the sale of assault weapons?   They are unbelievably easy to buy.  Does your member of Congress support or oppose the sale of weapons at gun shows?    

Will your local TV station or newspaper ask the questions?

When journalism fails, bad things happen.