What does it take to turn flabby ST into a sexy WSJ?

March 14, 2009

louisvuittonyumikococo02Today is big cycling day – I have only 15 minutes to spare, so lets skip the foreplay and dive straight into the deep end – tell me! What does it take to produce a free and independent press? Don’t think – it’s a simple question. OK, allow me to paraphrase it to make it simpler for you: what would be required to seed the supreme good and drive out the dystopian bad from our newspapers?

Did you say government should free up our press? Well you know what? You’re dead wrong!

Now before dwell deeper into how to build a better newspaper; it may be a good idea to discuss why a free and independent press is so important; if like me, you’re been following the sex in the city reportage surrounding the untimely deaths of both Widjaja and Allan Ooi; many things can be said here about slip shod reportage; they’re really too many to point out – you could just as well take your pick – everything from mind bending innuendos that is designed to cast doubt on the character of the deceased; right up to perhaps oblique references which suggest they may even be mentally unsound to perhaps good olde fashion character assasination – all would have made perfect sense; if only it wasn’t so easy to compress these accounts into a postage stamp and rubbish them within the time, it takes me to drain my bladder – that’s the cost of a lousy press – instead of news – all we get is gibberish.

Some in academia have forwarded the idea; one way of revivifying the fledging fortune of our press is by giving it more leeway and latitude to report and comment on current affairs – I don’t buy into this simplistic straight line account as its really closer to alchemy than anything that resembles cold cut logic; the problem with the freeing and opening up theory is it suffers from the same set of elusions it tries to inspire i.e by simply ‘opening’ up on a regulated press. It assumes endless opportunities for a broader all inclusive national discourse that will hopefully recruit an eclectic class of readers who may be willing to indulge in a spot of literary Sudoku.

That however is only holds water if you can believe for one moment the press corps is able to step up to the plate and play that sort of higher value added editorial game that world class newspapers excel in – truth suggest the ST may not even have those base line intellectual capabilities.

And one reason for my lack of faith in the press corps is due to the overwhelming evidence to suggest the condition I often describe as “department thinking” is now currently so prevalent amongst journalist, that it has calcified and even fossilized to levels which makes real cultural change impossible – its conceivable they (ST) may no longer be able to play the role of the fourth estate any longer.

This should prompt us all to consider very seriously whether; the whole idea of freeing up the press instead of driving out the bad by further freeing up minds may instead produce the reverse effect; life I am afraid is not so simple; decamp from authoritarianism and state control and magically happy democratization takes root like one of Jack’s bean stocks – that didn’t happen when the former soviet union bought into the whole idea of democracy – what preceded instead was balkanization and something akin to civil war. The same holds true for the Iraqi hubris; does everyone pine for democracy? Yes, they do; the only problem is what the Iraqi’s really want is democracy of a variant that has nothing to do with the Pax Americana ideal and theirs is really closer to an Iranian inspired theoracy.

As we can well see opening the press alone by freeing it up further is not nearly enough to give the ST an extreme makeover to make it a sleek long legged liquid eyes WSJ.

Neither do I buy into the idea of populist punditry that so often forwards the theory: one reason why our net these days resembles a zoo, is because the MSM isn’t allowed a freer hand to shape the collective consciousness by being able to write what they want –  that homily sugary idea would only really make sense – if you did not know for one moment the human raw material that one may expect to work with to turn a flabby press into a first class outfit may in fact be harder that raising the Titanic – tragic realism suggest complacency may be so riven within the ranks of the press corps what we may have instead is something closer to the idea of a ‘crippled press,’ – and if that’s true; you may even have to entertain the valedictory belief they may be even incapable of stepping up to the role demanded of them of what we usually associate with the fourth estate.

Here history steps in and gives us a clue into what it really takes to build up a free and independent press – it would seem for a free press to come about – one may even need to throw out all our templates about how to build a better newspaper – as history suggest very strongly the crèche that usually produces the best journalist are not the zoo keeping type that is endorsed with the appellation of government approval to write what you want providing you disagree with me under my terms – but rather good journalist, good editors, good newspapers seem only to emerge directly from the bedrock where they have to struggle perpetually in the discomfort zone.

It stands the test of reason; against the acute reality that he (the journalist) may actually be the vanguard that wordsmiths against big corporations, big power and big politics –  his version of reality is the only thing that separates us all from the mind dumbing version of reality that state imposed officialdom tries to forward – this effectively demolishes the myth of freedom to write in comfort may in fact produce nothing but rather more of the same to even suggest it is worthless as a way of building a better newspaper; if anything the entire crushing weight of history suggest without the fear of state inspired harassment, persecution and bullying it may not even be possible to produce such a thing as a credible journalist.

As in this desolate cold place where the oppositional writer puts his writing instrument on creamy paper; writing ceases to be writing in the truest sense and instead what emerges is its not designed to change anything as much as it strives to preserve something intact; that which is preserved may be the reality; things are never as simple as they often held out to be; it could be something worthy; something dreamy like having the right to read poetry or even a battle royale that attempts to take on the necessary lie of every successful regime.

I suspect here freedom does little to inure the oppositional writer with the right spirit to tease out the nuances and to seek out the greys in our omnipresent binary world.

If anything when that day comes when writers and the guilds they belong too and this includes journalist, bloggers and even the lone diarist are singled out for wreaths and honors and described in post scripted terms as exemplary models who we should all emulate by politicians; it probably also means real writing, deep spirited discourse along with the grist of the social narrative that continually seeks out the truth has dwindled to near nothingness, that I am afraid also means the thing we’re talking about when we use the word, ‘truth’ has reached a terminal end.

OK. I need to go cycling now; please do feel free to spell check and correct for grammar – bye for now – may write again, so check on down here from time to time.

Darkness 2009

The Brotherhood Press 2009

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