Scholarship on the American media reveals that the number of reporters nationwide has declined along with the number of newspapers, newspaper readers, and diversity of news ownership. So, serious journalism has taken a hit and “fluff” or lifestyle news has taken off. It is the dumbing down of America.
This has serious consequences for democracy. In some places, our leaders—both elected but especially appointed—now think they can do whatever they want.
This is where the news business comes in. Part of their job is to fact check statements of our leaders and to call them out when they lie, cheat, steal, mislead, or even try to whitewash their own actions.
Luckily, in some places, brave reporters still exist. And they are doing their jobs.
Like at the Winston Salem Journal, where reporter Bertrand M. Gutierrez showed that the Watauga County Board of Elections (appointed and thus not accountable to the people) drafted three different versions of the minutes of a meeting where two members rammed through bizarre and undemocratic changes to our voting procedures, over the strenuous objections of the other board member as well as citizens in attendance. To add insult to injury, then they tried to cover it all up by changing the minutes of what transpired at the meeting, even though it’s all on tape (because it was filmed and even aired on a national cable news-talk program). Their apparent motive is to hide what happened by literally taking out of the minutes any reference to what actually happened at that meeting.
Gutierrez’s story can be found here:http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/article_05632b10-0a04-11e3-949f-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=story
Rachel Maddow shows the absurdity of it all on her show, which can be viewed here: http://wataugadems.com/1508
This is a great local example of how important the media are as watchdogs of the powerful.
I write this letter to thank Bertrand Gutierrez and Rachel Maddow for this coverage. I also write to thank Kathleen Campbell for standing up to this nonsense, and to Jane Hodges for telling the truth about the implications of these changes.