Friday, November 12, 2021

Shrinking newspapers, many shirking First Amendment duties to be watchdogs, not lapdogs

My late friend and mentor, Nat Caldwell, Nashville newspaper reporter, was a Pulitzer Prize winner for splendid investigative reporting about coal cartels, UMWA and John L. Lewis, leading to Supreme Court case law. Nat Caldwell lamented GANNETT's purchase of his beloved TENNESSEAN newspaper. It broke his heart. Multiply Nat by thousands, yearning to report once again, free of flummery, dupery and nincompoopery from what I've called "Chain Gang Journalism" since our Appalachian Observer prospectus in 1981. Local news is not fulfilling its watchdog function. Newspaper ownsfership is dominated by oligopolist hedge fund vulture capitalists from Wall Street. In badly polluted nuclear weapons company towns like Oak Ridge, Tennessee, newspapers like The Oak Ridger are part of an oligarchy of atomic blunderers. Some "Chain Gang Journalim" managers may have delusions of adequacy, never attending government meetings. Their incredible shrinking excuses for newspapers are thinner and thinner. They now shirk their First Amendment duty to be a watchdog. Some louche lapdogs now eschew covering local governments, developers, and other corporate interests with a gimlet eye, now preferring "puff pieces" and short shallow stories. 

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