I enjoy it when Jay Leno does one of his famous Jaywalking bits, where he asks ordinary people very easy questions, like who fought in World War II, who's the Vice President of the United States, and is President Obama a Democrat or Republican? It's shocking and funny how many answer incorrectly, and some of these people are college students or even teachers. But I'm not sure most so-called news people in today's 24/7 media could answer any better.
When I was a newsman for WRVA Radio in Richmond, Virginia; KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia; and NBC and WINS NewsRadio in New York, we were held to much higher standards. We were expected to be well-read, educated in current events and history going back at least 50 years.
I became nostalgic for this bygone era when I tuned in this past weekend to one of my favorite news and information shows, Inside Washington, which originates on the local ABC television station in Washington, D.C., and is carried in selected other markets. I catch it online every week. http://www.insidewashington.tv/
In this particular edition, moderator Gordon Peterson opened by commenting on the controversy surrounding Shirley Sherrod, a black women condemned and fired for making a racist remark during a speech. Except she never made it, the whole story, which started with an edited and doctored video posted on a conservative website, and then was trumpeted by Fox News, was a big lie, as in the kind of Big Lie perpetrated by Hitler's Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Even the Obama Administration acted stupidly and prematurely, and followed the herd mentality by firing her. The President has since apologized to Sherrod and offered her a better and bigger job. But it does point out the deficiencies of today's news media in terms of accuracy, diligence, and integrity. Gordon Peterson said:
"Some of you may remember the good old days of newspapers, TV and radio news, when you had hours to work on your story, and your editors and producers had plenty of time to sift through your stuff for accuracy. If you remember that, you're a dinosaur! Welcome to the blogosphere, the burn-out pace of online news, and the 24 hour instant deadline."
Well, call me Tyrannosaurus Rex, because I do remember that time. I remember one story at KYW NewsRadio in which Andrea Mitchell (yes, that Andrea Mitchell) and I worked for a couple of weeks checking out facts before we were allowed to go on the air with our report. I'll admit there have been times over the years when I wondered where I'd be if I had stayed in that career. It was fun and exciting. Andrea still seems to be the hard-working and impeccably prepared reporter she was back then when we were colleagues and friends. But she and a few others are rarities, dinosaurs if you will. And I'm happy to have quit when I was ahead, and the quality of news media was way ahead.
(If you haven't discovered it yet, check out my prosperity blog, from which you can download my latest book, an online edition titled The Moneylove Manifesto, and even access a free sample audio from The Moneylove Club. http://www.MoneyloveBlog.com)