“The reason I have to fight every time to do these stories is because
the truth is that it’s hard to get the majority of Americans or even a
significant number of Americans in NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS’s world, to
All of which is impassioned, enviable, and even narrowly correct. The
crowd of Twitterers responded to Curry’s earnestness by clapping and
whooping. Tweets hashtagged “#140conf” began to pop up with greater
frequency. They were brimming with admiration.
But…why? Curry’s declaration, however admirable on its surface, also
valorized a long-standing but unfortunate tradition of ignorance among
even the more heroic journalists about the business side of the news.
Alone, that’s bad enough, but it accompanied a particularly unctuous
false weltschmerz—a blame-the-people-first attitude for the lack of
hard news in America today.
Corporate pressures also squeezed hard news before new media tools
like blogs and Twitter ever had a chance. Just ask David Simon,
creator of the HBO television show The Wire. Testifying at
recent Congressional hearing on the future of the news business, Simon
fairly dripped with disdain for the industry’s financial
constriction. “In fact, when newspaper chains began cutting personnel
and content, the industry was one of the most profitable yet
discovered by Wall Street. We know now, because bankruptcy has opened
the books, that the Baltimore Sun was eliminating its afternoon
edition and trimming nearly a hundred reporters and editors in an era
when the paper was achieving 37 percent profits.” This was 1995.
If Curry weren’t so quick to set aside cares about journalism’s bottom
line—yes, people have to want what you’re selling them—she
might be more familiar with how business decisions of all kinds
influence what’s news.
As of Wednesday, there were nearly a million tweets on the platform hashtagged
“#iranelection.” Although it’s impossible to say exactly what portion
of them came from Americans, it’s a safe claim nevertheless that a
significant number of Americans evidently care about the events in
Iran—and would have been practically glued to their television
screens had the cable channels given them something worth watching.