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August 30, 2021


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In my brief tenure as an ADOT PIO, I was appalled by the lack of skepticism displayed by reporters who called me. With the exception of Brahm, Kerry Fehr-Snyder, and Emily Gersema, most were just looking to get "content." Shoot, one even called to ask me how to navigate the the ADOT Website.

It seems probable that the low quality of news contributes to declining circulation.

It's not worth paying money for media that do little more than paraphrase press releases or other single-source material. If I want/need to read press releases, I can just read the originals on the web.

A willingness to get out reality-based angles that story-originators *don't* want disclosed is a necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) condition before media can return to viability.

Is a FOX, CNN, MSNBC, NEWSMAX viewer capable of analyzing anything?

What you will not see in the news
NEW ROADS in Arizona?
What do Kyrsten Sinema, and the Federal Infrastructure legislation (she takes credit for) have in common with ADOT and more coin for God’s lost tribe?
St Janet
And Gabby Giffords

Regarding Reporters
There’re are a few good Reporters out there. Finding good reporting today takes some effort. Crank up the search engine.
In Arizona One of the best was Terry Greene (now Sterling). After a few years of relaxing she is back with along with Reporter Jude Joffe and the block buster book, “Driving While Brown.”
Pepe Escobar is a favorite.
Christiane Amirpour was doing great until they stripped off her fatigues and put her in a Suit.
Hu Shuli, Known for her bold prowess in the industry and her investigative work on fraud and corruption.
Julian Assange was until the Empires locked his ass away.
Charles C Bowden took a turn at being a Reporter and was very good at getting the story to the point you could see the scenes in your head and smell and taste the blood.
Bowden on becoming a reporter.
“It started as the golden light of afternoon poured through the high, slit windows of the newsroom. I had no background in the business and I’d lied to get the job. I was the fluff writer, the guy brought on to spin something out of nothing for the soft features and the easy pages about how people fucked up their marriages or made a quiche or found the strength to go on with their lives because of God, diet, or a new self-help book.”

And then of course then there are the big boys that believe they know what you should and should not read.
Burying the news

What the nightly news will not tell you.

Nothing has changed

"Years after Hannibal was gone, the Romans were still not satisfied. They finished their work of apocalyptic vengeance in 146 BC by razing Carthage to the ground and selling its remaining population into slavery. Cato the Censor summed up the sentiments of empire: Carthage must be destroyed. Nothing about empire, from then until now, has changed."

Joe Biden
The Empire Does Not Forgive (continues on)


The Good news
T.R. is enroute with the
Marines to take out Raisuli.

On good reporting (no newsprint), I would include the AZ Mirror at azmirror.com. (no connection to me, financial or otherwise; just a reader). With a small band of people with good brains and excellent noses for news, they do a great job.

Az mirror has a good crew and they got Steve, an elderly wise man who would know the answer.

This post takes me back to college, and to one of my favorite classes: mass communication theory.

Today, when you hear the term "critical theory," it sounds like malignant wokeness on the right, or among the wokely inclined themselves, the key to unlocking fundamental knowledge or a fulcrum toward a guided future.

This class was nothing of the sort. It was critical in the sense of challenging what the mass media does and common perceptions about it. It provided us history of print and broadcast (online was too new when I took the class so it was still speculative). It also posed critiques, like Lippman vs. Dewey in the 1920s, figures like William F. Buckley and Marshall McLuhan in the midcentury, and even Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" thesis.

In short: I was not only impressed with what I've learned, but it also made me appreciate media and news.

I realize I am being peripatetic, as I sort of became the public defender assigned to represent wokeness under trial. I've succeeded in changing no minds and turning friends into enemies (see The Census post).

I'm here to clarify my stance on why I describe my politics as liberal but not woke. One of the reasons why I think wokeness is doomed comes from what I learned in mass comm theory.

We're intuitively biased against "bias" because we see it as a moral failing. We see "balance" as a moral virtue.

We wouldn't intuitively assume that an overly balanced story is just as bad as a blatantly biased one.

In mass comm theory: Look at any media like you would a stereo system. Balance and bias function like the bass and treble dials. If you turn either in opposite directions, you're going to get a weird quality sound. If you turn both in the same direction, you get a differently weird sound. If you leave bass and treble both evenly balanced at zero, you get a lifeless sound.

It's now the time for wokeness to tinker with the dials. Much of what constitutes wokeness is grievances rooted in "voice" and "representation." Wokeness is rebelling against a largely cishet (what used to be called straight) white male press corps, management structure and advertising demographic.

What's happening now is that the media cannot turn away from a multicultural society, either as sources to cover or as people to hire or place in charge.

Here's where it gets ... to borrow a go-to phrase used a lot by wokes ... problematic.

Wokeness is a deeply theoretical view of the world imposed upon a reality that turns to the media to chronicle brute reality. News is "history's first draft" for a reason. Journalists are not subject matter experts and must gather a lot of facts in a little time to be understood by the widest audience possible. First drafts are usually not very good and journalism as we know it isn't meant to be urtext.

Wokeness assumes the reader is steeped in the theory and folkways of the woke. They're not, and even with education won't be. It's why the Associated Press stylebook, the de facto English standard for mass communication, still advises a term like "Latinx" be confined to direct quotations and with an explanation of why the "X" is meant to denote gender neutrality in Spanish, a widely spoken language that like its Latin forebear, is thoroughly gendered.

There's a commonsense reason why so many people find fastidious language used by highly educated people off-putting. It comes off as pretentious and is meant to make the unsophisticated audience seem small and too dumb to lodge criticism.

That's the bias we do see.

There are two below-the-surface biases we must also acknowledge.

1. The bias of journalism as becoming more alike with its educational cohorts and less like the communities the media serve. Journalism is inherently a terribly compensated occupation. It does require at least a 4-year college degree and proficiency in English. Journalists stay close to their sources, not only out of the obligation of coverage, but also because journalists are looking for their next jobs.

As journalism becomes a less viable career track, journalists must parlay their skills into another field. And a lot of journalists' cohorts -- sources, friends, mates -- are so identical that they tend to pursue the kind of journalism that lends them in the life station they want to be in. Wokeness is a means to that end.

If they like journalism and want to stay in it, there is where Bias No. 2 comes into play.

2. Journalism is not dead. It just moved to New York, Los Angeles, Washington or the Bay Area.

In other words, journalism exhibits an anti-local bias. This marks a longstanding break with the American tradition of a local press dating back to prerevolutionary times.

Local journalism is a critically endangered species. On the other hand, the extinction pressure is less acute in the four cities that can best be described as the Media Belt.

All four are politically navy blue. All four are extremely diverse, or at the very least less white than the US as a whole. All four also have a dominant industry that the media works in service to. New York has finance and high culture. Los Angeles has mass culture. Washington has political power. The Bay Area (San Francisco and Silicon Valley) makes algorithms.

These four cities are also where most of the media jobs are, where most of the media talents are, where most of the advertising revenue is generated, and where media decisions are made that flow downstream to areas without the identical political, economic or cultural capital.

So wokeness thrives in an ecosystem of highly politically leftwing cities that are economically thriving nationally and even globally, and journalists hold similar jobs to their sources or socioeconomic cohorts. Their values are aligned toward people like themselves, and away from people still rooted in time, place and history (i.e., reality). And these are the people who actually consume the news as is.

This is the audience, and the audiences always outnumber the producers. Deep theory is elegant. Reality is messy and ugly, and must be recognized and appreciated for its nature.

Bobson's last paragraph was itself quite elegant and spot on. Reality is messy, and increasingly, globalized. Consumers are free to believe their own reality while certain purveyors (e.g., Fox News) aim to provide the content to undergird one's politicized paranoia. It's as if there's too much reality and too little local basis for that reality. This in turn accelerates the nationalization - and even globalization - of public conversations. Couple this with the internet and we're now living in a lurid public carnival determined more by view clicks than media conspiracies.

I remember the time about 20 years ago that I realized I was simply too overwhelmed to assess reality, that I needed trusted guides to provide a context for that reality. Bloggers, for example, were like sherpas on the Everest of too-much information. The few superstars out there such as Andrew Sullivan and Kevin Drum were necessary to avoid falling into the moraines of excessive content.

The golden age of blogging is fading fast, however. What has seemingly replaced it is a kind of journalistic virtue-signaling (see: wokeness). Instead of depending on guides to hyper-reality, we can get pre-digested conclusions in our news feeds. Explanations like white supremacy/privilege conveniently substitute analysis with moral certitude. It's gotten to the point that if you dare disagree with their conclusions, you are apt to be called a racist.

An interconnected world may be wonderful but it's also alienating for those humans who evolved in tribalized communities, which is all of us. We won't solve this problem with belief systems because they can't possibly explain everything. The resulting chaos is beginning to chip away at our shared if meager sense of common purpose. No one is to blame, however. This is a cognitive fault line in the human psyche that both enrages and confounds. Judging it won't make us safer, only more forlorn.

? Happen to my post?

Soleri, blogging as a medium is in its twilight. Its decline is technological rather than ideological. It wasn't just political commentary that faded, even non-political content declined.

Blog content creators and their audiences have migrated over to podcasting or YouTube. Blogs that were community-rich, where comment discussions took priority over content generation, moved to Facebook and Reddit.

We're living in the golden age of podcasting, and blogging is experiencing a revival in Substack, where content creators can monetize their writing.

Jon T., have you looked into starting your own Substack?

I've never watched a POD CAST and will not be doing such. But then i dont do utube or facebook or twatter.
And havent watched tv for 45 months.
But i do have email and read Jon's blog.
Somewhere something i thought i posted earlier got lost.
Something about not able to understand the chatter between Dugnutt and Soleri. And something about Sebastian Junger and Tribe
But i agree Reality is messy.

Cal, your post wasn't in the spam bin. So it never went through. Always define and save before you post, so you can repost if it doesn't "take."

thanks Jon.
Cal at 81

"Why we need the Generation Wars"
"It is fashionable to argue that our responsibility to the young requires greater thinking about the future — but it requires an equal commitment to the knowledge we have gained from the past."

"Twatter" Cal Freudian slip?

Good post. I've had the pleasure of dealing with some excellent reporters. Howie Fischer and Mary Jo Pitzl come to mind. But I'm among those who quit subscribing to the Republic because there was no longer much of anything in it worth reading. The trend Jon notes is very troubling.

Yes, we all need a good editor to cut through the infinite blather on the internet, Rogue is one doing a fairly good job at that.

Another aspect of the issue, I got my bill for the AZ Republic (yes, I get an actual newspaper every day) and it came to $105. Yes, folks, that is for one month.

They have raised their subscription rate, now charge me a "paper statement fee" because I won't give them a credit card number to automatically charge, and have added two "Premium Edition" fees for $10. These "premium" editions are nothing other than puff pieces for various businesses like resorts, tourism, and the like, but are non-discretionary.

The value proposition is dubious at best...

And Instagams

I'm a Phoenician, but travel the state widely. I have interests in Wyoming. Internet allows me to get several local publications daily. Regardless of the publisher, the main byline usually refers to the AP for the story. Interestingly, this applies to both serious and "fluf" stories. So I'm lucky if there is 10% of the publication is unique.

@Cal, I think you might have been humorous in your comment, but if not -- a podcast is audio-only.

It's a prerecorded radio program that you can listen to at any time and at your own pace. Your can stop, rewind, fast forward and even control the speed of the audio if you want to get through the program faster or slower.

If you have a smartphone, you have an audio player. If you go to a podcast website, either the program's own or from a syndicate like Spotify or Stitcher, you just click play.

Az Mirror will go the way of the AZ Independent, once the old man dies. Wait and see.

at 81
I cant hear!
Even with 6000 dollar hearing aids
I miss much if its spoken. And
I do DVD movies on my tv set
only if they have captions.
I do not like current films where you cant tell who is speaking. And music drowns out the voices. Whereas in many old films you could see the speakers face.

Dudas: I agree, Sad!

Back when I was a kid
I liked Dick Cavett"s Talk Show.
Richard Alva Cavett was an American television personality, comedian and former talk show host notable for his conversational style and in-depth discussions.

Good articles in Front Pages
Particularly the one on Poppies by Responsible Statecraft.
References to Opium remind me of the Film the Quiet American. Another of Americas Quagmires.

I mentioned Talk show host Dick Cavett.
Today there are thousands of available talking heads. Frankly i find them to be not much,
but Noise!

Great quality comment, Bobson.

This is a great article by Rogue. He makes good points and I indeed practice the principle of reading news carefulky, widely and skeptically. Especially the latter. I have learned over the last several years to always question the quality and bias of any news story, especially if it concerns political or controversial topics. It seems to me that media is putting a lot less effort into the balance adjustment.

I dont approve of censorship but I have thought from the get go Facebook was not a good thing. SO i never signed up for it or Twitter.

We HAD a nice neighborhood conversation group of republicans, democrats and independents.

The conversation has come to an end.

The unbelievable craziness in AZ, the fraudit, chief medical officer Ducey.

The national disgrace of Sinema, Biggs, Gosart, Ducey, Fann, etal.

The conversation has come to an end.

What on earth does that signify????

GOP'ers and Democrats at the same table at Denny's in Payson?
That's like an unarmed Joe Biden sitting across the table from armed Taliban.
You be safer at the Indigenous Casino.

Dems are hard to find in Payson

Cal, I will be paying a visit to my peoples casino on Friday. Sports betting opens up then.

Ramjet, agree, interestingly enough of the DEM/liberal causes that bring people out to carry signs on the Beeline, they make up about 80% of the outings. Church groups make up the other 20%.

Repubs/trumpers ride ATV's and trucks with trump flags. You won't see them ever walking. Their BMI's are a tad high for walking.

Good to hear some of "your" people have continued in the scalping business.
But them i heard they learned that skill from european invaders?
Keep an eye out for Ole Henry wagering on the horses.

And this is about where Jon posts another blog as the the not so intelligent have gone off subject page. AGAIN!
Its labor day so I'm doing my laundry.

Interesting supplement to this post. From Mother Jones in March/April of this year:


"Why Facebook Won’t Stop Pushing Propaganda." Facebook's business model is captive to disinformation, misinformation and malinformation.

Mother Jones also goes into detail of how Facebook puts its thumb on the scale in favor of far-right content.

Thanks Bobson
not surprising
About 2010 i thought it was obvious how bad this Fatal Attraction was turning out to be. Moths to the flames.

What Trump Twitter ban?

Thank you national media for keeping the spotlight on Trump 24/7 365.

What would Trump do without your complicit cooperation?

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