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Jeff McFadden @homemadeguitars
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I'm going to talk a bit about media, ownership, and the voices we hear in the public debate. Thread.
2. Strangely enough, I actually have a limited amount of inside information on this topic. I used to be a paid journalist.
3. Not paid a lot - I was a "don't quit your day job" journalist. A free lance magazine writer.
4. Those of you who remember back before the Internet probably remember magazines. They were paper objects,
5. with pictures and text imposed on the paper via an obsolete technology using an opaque fluid called "ink." Magazines were typically folded in half,
6. With metal staples along the fold to hold them together.
Magazines came in a wide variety of topics. Believe it or not,
7. Newsweek used to be printed on paper and mailed to your house.
I wrote mostly for small farm, motorcycle, or craft magazines.
8. The first story I ever sold was called I Like Chickens. Sold it to Missouri Farm Magazine for 35 bucks, which was enough to buy
9. Half an ounce of high quality pot. So this was a long time ago.
By the way, I still like chickens.
I wrote a lot for Small Farmers Journal,
10. a magazine dedicated to the proposition that horses were still a practical power source for small scale agriculture.
11. I taught myself to plow with a team of draft horses and an old fashioned walking John Deere plow. (In case you didn't know,
12. John Deere, the man, drew his fame from inventing the steel, as averse to cast or wrought iron, plow.) Anyway...
13. That article - Walking Plow - was picked up and published by a draft horse magazine in Germany, the only thing I ever wrote
14. published in a language I couldn't read.
They stiffed me on the payment.
I wrote for spinning and weaving mags too - we raised sheep,
15. And the first wife was a one - handed spinner, and I was a weaver. We ate the occasional sheep, too, and sold them at the sale barn.
16. The Kansas City Star ran a lot of my letters, although of course they didn't pay for them, and at least one of my columns once, too.
17. The point being, I knew how to please editors, how to sell work, how to get published.
The Internet ruined all that. Different story.
18. 3rd try... Twitter for Android is kinda flaky...
So one day I was at somebody's house talking about how the editor and publisher define the voice of the magazine.
19. And she got right up on her high horse and looked down her nose at this dumb shit and said, "I have a degree in journalism and I KNOW that the editor doesn't tell you what to write!"
20. And I replied, "I am an internationally published writer (ooh that was fun!) and I KNOW that if the editor doesn't like your stuff he won't buy it.
21. She mentioned that, well, as it turned out she hadn't been published yet and... So. My point. Every word you see, hear, or read
22. In any commercial media outlet is there because it suits the needs and wants of the person or persons who control that outlet.
23. The things which occur do not define the news. Some individual humans decide which of the events which occurred should be reported to you.
24. There are roughly 7 1/2 billion people doing things every day. You will never hear about most of those things.
25. There are tens to perhaps hundreds of thousands of Americans submitting articles and stories to American media outlets every day.
26. These are real numbers.
Nobody, no matter how unbiased, could possibly bring you more than a sliver of the stories about a fraction of the events
27. That happen around you on any given day. That is an inescapable fact.
Next, people are, must be, and should be biased.
28. To take a topic currently in the news, what would you think of a person who was not biased against child sexual abuse?
29. My dog is biased. To be alive is to be biased. The pretense of unbiased news is an insult. There is no such human. What we should get, and don't,
30. Is honest news that honestly admits to living by some standard of belief. I don't lie to you. You may even accept that as true.
31. But I care about things. I tell you all the facts I find that are relevant to a topic, and I unabashedly present that through
32. My personal biases. This is, in my opinion, honest reporting.
So - we see that no media outlet can tell you all the viewpoints
33. Or tell you all the events and occurrences. What's my complaint?
My complaint is that our media is entirely beholden to the Plutarchy.
34. We have a "Free Press" but we do *not* have an "independent press."
The press is not subject to laws passed by government, but
35. The press is entirely limited to only saying what the editor likes.
Remember: if the editor doesn't like it he won't buy it.
36. Back in the days of magazines you didn't have to be a multi-millionaire to control the voice of one segment of the media. Lynn Miller,
37. who published the Small Farmers Journal, was not a millionaire. He was a guy with a dream, and a story he wanted to tell, and a bias:
38. He believed in the practical benefits of work horses for small scale farming. If you believed in it too, and could write fairly well,
39. He would choose your voice to be part of the voice of his magazine. That's how it works.
There is basically only one world view,
40. Only one bias, in the so called Main Stream Media today, and that is the view and bias of the Plutarchy. That isn't because they hold secret meetings
41. And conspire to tell you one particular story. It is because, just like all horse farmers have certain views in common,
42. all plutarchs have certain views in common.
Part of the reason I'm not rich is because I never wanted to be rich. I don't think I'd have as much fun being rich
43. As I had farming with two old Belgian mares.
And it really was an either-or choice. Being rich is pretty much a full time job.
44. Today on NPR I heard two articles about "Tax reform."
In the first place, the title is a lie or close to it. They're not "reforming" squat.
45. But that's where that pretense of "no bias" comes in. The Republicans have chosen to market their tax scam under the brand name Tax Reform,
46. and it would be "biased" to challenge the brand name.
And it would. It would show a bias in favor of the dictionary definition of the word "reform".
47. To me a bias in favor of using words to mean what the dictionary says they mean ranks up there with being biased against child pornography.
48. It would be an altogether positive bias for any journalist. But mine is a minority view, and I'm not the editor
49. @HereAndNowRobin is trying to please.
The Koch Brothers are now a major funder of NPR. They are the editor. If the editor doesn't like it he won't buy it.
50. So - assuming Robin doesn't want to go sleep under a bridge with all them gandies, she needs to please the editor. Not her fault.
51. The piece was about how the tax scam will screw graduate assistants at research universities, and for a piece snuck out under the watchful eye of the John Birch Society it wasn't bad.
52. But - it had to include, unchallenged, a mention that the Republicans say the tax plan will grow the economy so much that the graduate students won't mind
53. Paying taxes out of the money they are paid, on money they never see. So, say, if you make $10K a year but your University
54. waives $15K / year in tuition, you'll have to cough up the cash to pay taxes on "$25,000" income out of your $10K cash.
55. It typically costs a graduate assistant somewhere between 99% and 110% of her cash stipend to live for a year, so I'm sure
56. it won't be a hardship to her to spit out 53% of her stipend to the tax man, so the Koch Brothers can get a much needed break.
57. If we had ONE INDEPENDENT media outlet they would do an in-depth piece on the historic record of Republican tax cuts.
58. They wouldn't have the requisite Republican saying "Tax cuts economic growth jobs pay for themselves blah-de-blah blah." They could report
59. The actual numbers by which the deficit went up after Reagan's tax cuts, then after Bush's. They could report how NOBODY in the working classes has gotten a raise
60. since Reagan started this crap.
They could do an in-depth report on how tax cuts made the economy in Kansas shrivel up
61. like a nightcrawler on a hot sidewalk after an August thunderstorm.
They could report on how the economy worked under Eisenhower
62. When the top tax rate was well up in the 90s.
Aftwr they finished that I could make some suggestions for them about language, punch, impact
63. And the judicious application of the word "lie."
But you've probably had enough for now.
--Jeff out
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