Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Journalism In Retreat

My, how things have changed.

A white elephant of a computer project, badly bungled by a state agency. The public denied access for four months to records detailing how politicians raised and spent money. The kind of stuff newspapers and other media would have been all over five years ago or, hell, even a year ago.

On Monday, the Democracy Campaign did something we've never before had to do. We filed an open records request to try to get our hands on about two dozen missing campaign finance reports that were supposed to be submitted by office holders and candidates for state office and made available for public inspection at the end of January. Not a single newspaper in the state wrote a word about it. Radio and television ignored the story, too, with the exception of one lonely community radio station in Madison.

People used to complain about "pack journalism," when seemingly the entire press corps would chase the same story, intensely competing to scoop each other and going to extreme lengths to unearth a new wrinkle or different dimension to a story. Today we have the opposite extreme on display. No one is telling a good many stories the public needs to know about.

We're in deep trouble. Ignorance and democracy are not compatible.


Jo Egelhoff, said...

Just for the record Mike, FoxPolitics News included your informative press release in its June 2 edition.

Mike McCabe said...

Thanks, Jo. Good to have you there, calling attention to things that are too often being overlooked nowadays by many if not most news organizations.

Anonymous said...

When you do get access, information is wrong. The system still refuses to allow some information to be part of the report. For now, all the treasurer can do is send a written hard copy with the correct information and how can the public have good access to that? The elephant can not be saved, a humane euthanization is the only answer.