Over the last few months, I have had numerous people ask me if I was planning to launch my own news and commentary site. This is mostly the result of my social media interactions and some of my blog posts, and perhaps the result of some of my work with Samantha James’ website, The Historical Diaries. While I have explored the notion of creating an editorial website, even tinkering with one for a short time, it never gained any traction worth pursuing. As much as I appreciate the thoughts and trust many of you have put in my editorial and writing skills, and I as grateful I am that many of you think so highly of me, I wish to clear the air on this matter.
I do not intend to launch any sort news website at present, nor in the future.
There are a great many reasons for this, not least of which being the both the current state of my finances, and the current state of the media itself. I prefer to be apolitical (current qualms with the Trump Administration not withstanding) and, for that reason, my involvement in any sort of media endeavor is not a smart idea. I have a few friends who have worked in the media and, based on their accounts and work, I would not be a particularly welcome fit in most newsrooms. Also, I have had personal confirmation that my days in the news business ended long ago with failed 2016 application to the Marietta (GA) Daily Journal for a Copy Editor position. That was all I truly needed to reaffirm that my writing path lay elsewhere.
I have faced a stark reality; my dreams of being a journalist have long been dead and, while I have mourned that loss, I have also moved on in my life. While I enjoyed the brief run I had as a “content mill” writer for Examiner.com (now AXS) and Yahoo Voices, as well as a brief stint writing for the now defunct Doraville.com, my writing talents are best employed spinning yarns here, and assisting Carly McCracken and her team at my new publisher, Crimson Cloak, with occasional weekend podcasting duties. I will continue to provide what I hope is quality, entertaining contact through this website, as well as through social media outlets with both my writing, podcasts and artwork in the form of Bentley Northwood and other projects, but the news business is simply no longer my path.
Years ago (and for a brief time in 2011), I ran my campus newspaper, The Sou’Wester, and we did great things as a team. We created an award winning publication whose streak of glory has yet to be matched. Though I’m certain a coming generation will find a way to eclipse these achievement, and I look forward to that record falling, the fact remains – that era of my life was meant to stay there. To paraphrase the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers after they won the Stanley Cup, that college newspaper team will walk together forever. However, I am no longer the person who once led that team – I have changed dramatically since that time, and am meant to do something far different with my talents.
This conclusion is based on a stark truth, that the modern news industry and I are fundamentally incompatible. In my view, journalism and reporting are meant to be honorable, noble professions. Graphic designers, who create the packaging which deliver these stories and reports, are meant to noble tradesmen and tradeswomen, plying their craft to lead the eye to the information which matters. Sadly, what we now have in the news world is not the “Five Ws” of Journalism, but the “three S’s” of the tabloids: sex, sensationalism and scandal. Ideology-driven innuendo and supposition, rather than real hardcore investigative reporting and good fact-checking, now rules the newspaper and news media roost, regardless of what side of the political aisle it comes from. While the news media remains a vital bulwark against oppression, I have become saddened to see a once-dignified profession I was desperate to be part of devolve into something, at least on the national level, I would be ashamed to join.
While there are a great many newspapers and media outlets which do excellent work, and their teams have proven to be second-to-none in terms of integrity and quality (and I’m grateful to know several reporters who work for these outlets), those outlets are becoming less the rule and more the exception, a byproduct of the “echo chamber”-driven environment of “alternative-versus-mainstream” we now live in. Regardless of ideology, advertising drives commercial news outlets, and people are being given “what they want” to win those ad dollars, regardless of the damage done or the level of accuracy and integrity shown. It is a sad reality, but a reality nonetheless.
For those of you who believe I am spouting conservative talking points, you are dead wrong. My friends can tell you I am quite center-left in terms of my politics (I voted for neither Trump nor Clinton), but I refuse to engage in the sort of ends-justify-the-means reporting used by various outlets and individuals who, rather than offering the readers and viewers the opportunity to decide for themselves, simply wish to effect an outcome that best benefits them, their personal causes, or their employers. The days of Shaw, Murrow, Hite, Brokaw, Jennings, Huntley and Brinkley are long gone. The days when even anchors and journalists even attempted to display a mask of objectivity have ended, and we are now living in an ideology-driven era of twisted facts, distortions, and theories based in little more than the colored lenses of the worldviews of so-called “opinion journalists” and “alternative news media.” These are the reasons I refuse to be a party to the news media in its current form.
I apologize if this bothers some who look for an objective or, at the very least of my capabilities, moderated voice of reason in the world of news. There are times a cold splash of water is what’s necessary to wake up from a slumber, and I’ve had to give myself that splash. Commentary, education and entertainment is now my calling with this blog, not news. Maybe someday in the future, but not today.
Thank you for understanding, and for reading.