Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,
Last week's letter ended thusly:
"When I become king I'm going to require that all news media of a certain size or larger (metrics to be determined) must declare that they are partisan, in what way, and provide a simple, short, clear statement explaining their approach to the news. If they're about lurid pictures/video, lurid stories, and making as much money as possible that's fine -- as long as they acknowledge it." -me
Since Journalism is both an institution and a profession with deep historical roots, and I've taken it upon myself to drag it into the new millennium (kings can do stuff like that), I thought I'd explore the who/what/when/where and whys of...
[Can I ask a question, Poppa? What exactly is purple journalism? Ain't that what you called it?]
I'm flattered and honored you were paying attention, Iggmeister. I credit Marie-Louise for purple; the word popped into my psyche unbidden and I knew instantly it was what I wanted.
Purple journalism is not a new form of journalism, it's just a name for journalism as it's actually practiced nowadays. Take the New York Times. It claims to practice objective journalism but they have an obvious left-wing ethos that bleeds through on every page (traditional, partisan journalism).
However, they're hardly a tabloid. One can also find much in the way of good writing and quality coverage in any given edition (objective, professional journalism).
However, they're not above sensationalism and publishing obvious hit pieces about their ideological enemies. For example, anyone truly familiar with Jordan Peterson, fan or foe, could spot the obvious hatchet job written by Nellie Bowles and published on 5/18/18, that as best I can tell, is about Dr. Peterson's evil twin, it's clearly not about him. The article is pure, bright yellow journalism.
Clang! Fox News, fair and balanced
Given that it's widely acknowledged H. sapiens can and do strive for objectivity when it's called for (well, sometimes), but by nature are biased creatures, and
Given that most of the mainstream media are obviously partisan in nature, and
Given that what mainstream actually means is a relatively large audience and content that's not considered too far out there and
Given that, because of the internet, there's no shortage of content that is indeed far out there and much that's even farther out there than that...
Let's label this the era of purple journalism. Let's abandon hypocrisy (fair and balanced) and declare that honesty is the ideal of purple journalism. Not necessarily honest content, honesty about what sort of content.
"While we don't usually publish outright lies, we're not above it if we think we won't get caught, or even if we do that it won't actually matter. We're in it for the money and it sure beats having to get a real job."
While King Crank's Declaration of Honesty will be required for mainstream media outlets, my hope is that any outlet that offers content that it claims to be journalism will do so voluntarily.
For example, imagine The Drudge Report
I'll betcha a bottle-a-pop that Facebook's declaration would be as convoluted, confusing, and deceptive as their explanations of how to use their privacy settings.
[Whatever... but how would you enforce this law? Who or what determines what should be included in a Declaration of Honesty?]
Thanks, Dana, this is the best part. It doesn't matter what's in the statement.
The public, and a given outlets competition, will be the judge of that. If it's been determined that an outlet is large enough to be required to make the declaration, failure to do so will result in the CEO spending an hour in the royal pillory. Media coverage will be encouraged and facilitated.
A useful law that doesn't require bureauons or some sort of police to enforce, if I do say so myself, is a very cool law. Poppa loves you.
Have an OK day.
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©2018 Mark Mehlmauer (The Flyoverland Crank)
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