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Saturday, March 14, 2009

why they're so rare

I'm surprised that everyone's omiGOD, these people at CNBC aren't really reporters!!

Journalism is hard work and I don't mean the part where you sit down in front of a screen to write. The gathering news part is hard. But what can be way harder is the fuck yous you get, the clever lies, the personable liars and the threatening ones. Not to mention the fact that you might end up writing bad things about people which will make you an object of hatred. You might end up being messenger who will be ignore, reviled and undermined. Or shot. Yeah, that happens a lot in a lot of parts of the world.

Real journalism is not for someone who wants to be popular with the elite--or anyone else if it comes to that. If you write really balanced stories about horrible situations, nearly everyone is likely going to show an asshole side and you have to expose that. Exposed assholes aren't pretty. True investigation of important issues is not for television personalities if they care about ratings. The story is all that matters for a real journalist.

I was a real reporter for ohhhhhh maybe 2 weeks? Less than that, really. It was a story that was dumb and small -- about the placement of a television tower for god's sake -- and still makes me feel nauseated when I think about how MAD everyone got.

The kind of reporter I'm talking about isn't the type who goes to a meeting and writes it up (and in case you're curious, I stank at that) I mean the type who goes to the meeting and then looks for the back-story and tries to see why people are doing what. She's an investigator and she won't stop until she figures it out . Note to Jim Cramer and anyone else: People who are doing bad things will lie about it. And if you figure that out, they will get mad at you. EVERYONE will get mad at you. Even people you like and admire. Even your publisher.

After that tiny foray into real news exploration, I did nothing but feature stories. Maybe a trace of controversy, but never deeply explored, never the basis of the story. I was a girly girl and I wanted people to like me. I did not like it when the big guy yelled at me and told me to fuck off.

So when Jon Stewart tells Jim Cramer he's not a real journalist and he should have been and Cramer's already big eyes go all round and sad, I think, no, Cramer couldn't be. He doesn't have what it takes. In fact, who the hell does? Not a lot of people as it turns out.

Cramer and almost everyone else over at CNBC never will be able to write real news. He's like most of us. He cares too much about what people think of him. He respects money too much which means he respects the people who hold it (or he did, anyway) If you're going to be a real reporter, you can't care so much about the people. You care about the institutions and justice. You know people and you can write a great portrait, but the people aren't as important as the story, and you're willing to hurt the feelings of people you might actually admire. You have to have the courage of your convictions to a degree that most of us can only imagine.

And those reporters? I've only met a couple and they're tough, driven, scary people, God love them. I sure do.

12 comments:

  1. Jon Stewart is about as close as they come in the mainstream, and he can get away with it because his position is to piss off everyone and point out the humor.

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  2. AND he gets to do the mockery after the fact. He and his crew might do the job of hunting down nonsense as displayed on clips, but he doesn't really uncover hidden facts.

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  3. What's that you say - they're doing what's easy instead of actually working? How shocking.

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  4. Wait. Did Cramer think he was a journalist of some sort? For real?

    As I told my sister yesterday when we were discussing this "interview", the division between entertainment (and its ad-driven purpose) and information is non-existent in the cable "news" world, and even in the regular news market. (I watched a couple of hours of the Today Show the other day, while at the laudromat; it was horrendous and pathetic all at once.) Call me a cynic, but there are few if any "reporters" on national or local "news" shows that I think of as journalists; no, they are people who want to be on television. And there is a difference.

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  5. Stewart was on about how Cramer should have been an investigative reporter and there's no possible way on this earth or any other Cramer could do that job.

    In fact I can't think of a single person I've seen on CNBC who could. Okay, I take that back. Amanpour.

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  6. I don't think Stewart was saying that, Kate. He was saying that CNBC - not Cramer specifically - should be more investigative. Not even that, really. More like they should ask more relevant/skeptical questions rather than spend all their time talking about how great the market is and how we should buy buy buy. That's not investigative journalism, it's just basic curiosity.

    And jmc - I turn on the first 10 minutes of the Today show every morning. Then I turn it off, because it makes me homicidal. Every. Single. Day.

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  7. yeah, I get that he was saying ya'll should have given your shows on CNBC real names like "shill"

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  8. In fact i think I'll go watch it all again...it's pretty amazing.

    Poor Cramer. Yeah, yeah. He and his network deserve every single word, but he just wanted to be lurved and admired. And very, very rich.

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  9. Was he honestly surprised that people lied to him? Sigh.

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  10. okay THIS is funny.
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/3/15/5532/46672/152/708707

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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