-By Warner Todd Huston
Tooting one's own horn has always been considered a social faux pas, an example of arrogance, and just plain ignorant. But it seems that someone forgot to teach these social niceties to Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald because this week Pitts has decided to tell us all that real journalists shouldn't be scoffed at. Why? Because they are selfless, danger-defying, super action heroes, or something. Yes, Pitts is sure that journalists are just purer, better, smarter, and more intelligent than you just-a-bloggers out there.
Now, I've always tried to live by the maxim that my own status as a hero or villain is for others to determine, not me to invent and tout. But Pitts isn't going to just sit around while his precious fellow journalists are verbally maligned by someone as low as Sarah Palin, any old Breitbart writer or -- the horrors -- just a blogger.
Apparently someone mentioned to Mr. Pitts that Governor Palin, who Pitts thinks is a "silly" person, mentioned his profession at this year’s Right Online event, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity. During her remarks at the weekend planned in part to celebrate the life and work of conservative Internet giant Andrew Breitbart, Palin said, "Every citizen can be a reporter."
This struck Mr. Pitts as an outrage. Why, only real reporters, he feels, can properly report the news. Pitts proves to us how great these professional reporters can be with his very article, too. I mean, where else can we get such timely "news" reports on events that happened two weeks ago but from a professional journalist like Leonard Pitts. Jr.?
Anyway, Pitts doesn't think that any old citizen journalist, or any just-a-blogger, can do what he does. In fact, he thinks they just won't. Why won't they? Because only journalists are brave and fearless enough to tackle the job. To prove that, Pitts regales us with derring do tales from the reporters of the New Orleans Times-Picayune who were brave enough to get their feet wet during the 2005 swamping of the city during Hurricane Katrina.
They bravely stayed longer than others to report the news of the hurricane, Pitts sonorously informed us. He also said that one reporter he knows "rushed toward the destruction in New York City on 9/11." Others went to Haiti to report from the rubble of the earthquake-ravaged countryside. Then there are those that go to "council meetings, pore over the budgets, decipher the court rulings" to get the news out.
But, he says…
Will "citizen reporters" replace that function?
Will they have the resources, the credibility, the knowledge, the training or even the desire to do so?
Apparently Pitts is unaware that citizen journalists are already doing most of these things, especially where it concerns the operations of local governments. Great organizations such as the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Texas Watchdog, the Mercatus Center, and the Mackinac Center, among many, many others have been doing great work in public policy reporting for quite some time. And this isn't even to mention the many thousands of just-a-bloggers that have also been doing such work for local school boards and cities.
Now, unlike Pitts, I am not going to sit here and say that we don't need journalists. I really do think that journalism is an important profession not to mention a truly important part of our American system, one even the founders valued and wanted to protect. We don't want to see "real reporters" and newspapers destroyed. We just want them to stop being stealth shills for anti-American, left-wing ideologies.
Pitts himself rightfully points out that newspapers are going the way of the Dodo bird. He laments this and so do I. But he seems quite clueless about why newspapers are failing all across the country. He seems to think it's just because "English majors" are trying to run businesses. If Pitts wants to assign silliness to people, this rather silly claim deserves that prize.
There is a reason his side is losing the battle to citizen journalists, of course, but it isn't the bad business sense of "English majors." In his arrogance he mistakes left-wing ideology as journalism. Pitts is one of those so blinded by his own ideology that anyone that disagrees with his left-wing viewpoint is a "crank case" that doesn't deserve to be called a "journalist."
Bias is why his profession is dying. It isn't because no one wants news, but because no one wants arrogant ideologues brow beating readers with a biased viewpoint while pretending that they are giving a just-the-facts reporting of what is happening in the world.
Readers also don't need "journalists" presenting themselves as heroes. They just need journalists to actually do their job, or at the very least be honest of from what side of the aisle they hail.