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ONA Austin Message Board › Muckrakers needed

Muckrakers needed

Jon R.
Austin, TX
Post #: 48
"Th newspaper does ivrything f'r us. It runs th' polis foorce an' th' banks, commands th' milishy, controls th' ligislachure, baptizes th' young, marries th' foolish, comforts th' afflicted, afflicts th' comfortable, buries th' dead an' roasts thim aftherward". -- Finley Peter Dunne, writing as "Mr. Dooley",

In what is sometimes seen today as the golden age of print journalism reporters saw their main duty to be to investigate and expose corruption in all its manifestations. They had the backing of their editors, publishers, and advertisers in doing that, and readers paid for the best exposes. That was the day of the Fourth Estate, when it was largely the newspapers that kept government and the corporate sector, if not honest, then at least less dishonest and abusive than they might otherwise have been.

I watched the decline of that legacy. By the time I published a series of four articles in the Seguin Gazette in 1962 it was only after the other newspaper in town refused to publish, and the editor of the Gazette admitted he got a lot of heat from the town's rich lady who backed the corrupt officials I exposed.

I watched the crusading columnists fade from the pages of more and more major papers, until it was down to Jack Anderson, and his death ended the tradition for many years. As a reformer I have taken many stories of corruption to reporters, only to have them refuse to pursue them, citing their fear of lawyers, judges, the government, large advertisers, or their corporate owners, even if the fears were usually overblown in practice.

Now we have a new age: The Internet Changes Everything.

But the habits of timidity persist, leaving too many people to think that corruption is something that only happens in other countries or in the movies. That is wrong. It is deeply entrenched in our society and destroying it from within. See A Lawyer's View of the Justice System, by Joseph H. Delaney.

Your mission as online journalists, if you choose to accept it, is to focus on investigating and exposing corruption. If somebody is not trying to kill you, you' re not doing your job.

We have a Constitution Meetup to which you are invited.
Ken M.
Austin, TX
Post #: 21
Jon, as an investigative journalist running a 501(c)(3) for that purpose, I can tell you that some of us are continuing to pursue corruption full-time.

But I wish you wouldn't put Jack Anderson on a pedestal. While he did accomplish a lot, he was a deeply flawed and totally corrupt, as was his arch nemesis, Richard Nixon. I recently finished reading Mark Feldstein's book, "Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington's Scandal Culture," which is a thoroughly researched and an brilliant account of these two men. I already knew Nixon was corrupt but was aghast at the many instances of Anderson being without any moral compass. While Anderson's star faded with as Watergate drew major press outlets, that event spawned the beginning of a new generation of investigative reporters.

Although major press outlets are downsizing and struggling to find a sustainable business model these days, the Investigative News Network now has 60 nonprofit member organziations to pick up the slack, including my own, The Austin Bulldog (http://www.theaustinb...­.
Jon R.
Austin, TX
Post #: 49
The Investigative News Network is a commendable effort, but its not mainstream. It doesn't yet reach the majority of voters. For all of his flaws, Jack Anderson at least provided some cover for other investigators for mainstream media. As long as he could get away with it and hold a paying audience, others could do likewise. When he faded from the scene do did those others. That was not an accident.

But this is a new age. We need our own heroes.
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