Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Unprofessionalism of Professional Journalists

The Unprofessionalism of Professional Journalists
Bevin Chu

May 16, 2006

In the past, the major media
were the gatekeepers of public information. They wielded the power of veto over anyone who aspired to reach large numbers of the public.

With the advent of the Internet however, their defacto monopoly over the public forum has evaporated into thin air.

They know it, and they don't like it one bit.
That's why "professional journalists" such as Ted Koppel have been so resentful of "amateurs with PCs."

Ted Koppel

Here's what Koppel said in 1997:

Reporting is not really about, 'Let's see who can get the first information to the public as quickly as possible. It's about: 'Let's see who can get the information to the public - as soon as we have had a chance to make sure the information is accurate, to weigh it against what we know, to put it in some sort of context.' Only when you're satisfied as a professional journalist that you've got the story and the facts have been verified, only then can you go with it. If we are moving into an era in which reporters are pressured to get it online before we have a chance to check and edit the material - if speed is the main criteria of putting something online - then I think that's dangerous. Ultimately, a journalist has a responsibility to separate truth from rumor. There's always going to be room for the outlet that says, `We're not worried about geting it first, we're about getting it right.'

What Koppel said was right in principle. What Koppel said was right in the abstract.

The problem is that Koppel isn't addressing the real issue.
The problem isn't that "professional journalists" don't get it first. The problem is that "professional journalists" don't get it right, even when they get it last. The problem is that Koppel's "professional journalists" get it wrong, first, last, and always.

For the past decade, for example, Koppel's so-called "professional journalists" have been getting the Taiwan independence issue dead wrong.

The Taiwan independence movement is not an idealistic and progressive political movement, but a bigoted and reactionary political movement. Only recently has this ugly truth become too obvious for the major media to hide. Only recently, therefore, have Koppel's "professional journalists" been getting the Taiwan independence issue right.

Meanwhile, someone such as myself, who was not a "professional journalist," was getting the Taiwan independence issue right, for over a decade.

Anyone who doubts this claim need only read my online articles going back to the mid 90s. I hate to say "I told you so," but the fact is I did.

How did I do it? Was it some special genius on my part?

Hardly. All I did was look at the facts and listen to my conscience.

Why didn't Koppel's "professional journalists" get the Taiwan independence issue right?

They didn't get the Taiwan independence issue right because they turned a blind eye to the facts and a deaf ear to their consciences.

As political scientist Michael Parenti notes:

The U.S. major media and much of the minor media are not free and independent, as they claim. They are not the watchdog of democracy but the lapdog of the national security state. They help reverse the roles of victims and victimizers, warmongers and peacekeepers, reactionaries and reformers. The first atrocity, the first war crime committed in any war of aggression by the aggressors is against the truth.

Today, a decade later, the true face of the Taiwan independence movement has been exposed, not due to the major media, but in spite of the major media.

How sad.

As I see it, here is where honest amateurs have an indispensable role to play. Honest amateurs can expose the "professional journalists" for what they are, purveyors of the Big Lie. Koppel's talk about "professional journalists" who conscientiously engage in "fact-checking" is self-serving eyewash.


  1. Anonymous3:24 AM

    Much worse than professional journalists in this respect are, on the one hand, the DPP progagandaministerium-funded Central News Agency and, on the other, Green dailies such as Taipei Times and Taiwan News. These "medias" have been either distorting news or providing biased analyses on which foreign journalists often rely on in order to write their own articles, especially if they are unable to use first-hand sources in Chinese. Finally, there is the specific case of those in charge of the Opinion section in the Wall Street Journal: here, you can witness a deliberate leaning on the secessionist cause with frequent contributions from Arthur Waldron and John Tkacik. Therefore, you took an excellent initiative with this blog, a good complement to your website and oOblue. (Unfortunately, U.S.-based pan-Blue sites are no match to FAPA and other TI sites there.) On a personal level, I acquire much insight from reading your texts about the malevolence of the kominka Iwasato Masao, later known as Li Teng-hui. This man is much worse than Vidkun Quisling because he voluntarily serves Japan since his childhood while very specific circumstances induced the "Hitler of Norway" to gradually espouse the Nazi cause. Nevertheless, he might have some excuse as many people doubted his biological father was "Three-leg Chin-lung" (三脚仔金龍)!

  2. I'm sure you're aware that libertarian anti-intervetionists refer to the Wall Street Journal as the "War Street Journal?"

    The Taipei Times is absolutely the worst of the two English language print media outlets -- three if you count the government run Central News Agency.

    Ironically, government run the Central News Agency is actually less flagrant in its bias than the Taipei Times! That's how bad the TT is.

  3. In the effort to reinforce accurate information exchange; the following exposes “News” history and the function of willful deception:

    “When the Equity movement began in 1827, it soon became evident that no aid was to be expected from the newspapers, because the latter depended for their financial support mainly upon the advertisements of profit-making traders, while the new principles tended to eliminate the whole system of profits and the advertising puffery that props it up. “It was evident,” said Warren, “that any new truths which tended to break up the present suicidal and desolating habits of business must have a printing power of their own, or make their way into the world with all the mighty power of the press against them. This gave rise to the design of taking the printing power out of the exclusive control of merely mercenary managers, and making it as accessible as the use of speech or the pen.” (William Bailie)