1200 words critical journalism of a book Essay Example
The book, Into the Buzzsaw: leading journalists expose the myth of a free press, is basically a collection of different essays by different journalists that, in different ways, attempts to promote the freedom of speech. The essayists are mostly serious journalists who have been excommunicated from the field of media. Most of them have come to the conclusion that freedom of speech, particularly in the United States of America, is more of a myth than a reality. Into the buzzsaw goes into depths and tackles sensitive subjects such as the CIA’s role in the smuggling of drugs, lies created by investigators of the flight TWA 800, the Prisoners of War rotting in Vietnam, the dangers of bovine growth hormone, disenfranchisement of African American voters leading to Bush’s election win, a war massacre in Korea and among other ostracized issues (Borjesson 27). For most, the discovery if such a reality has been nothing short of a civics lesson.
The “buzzsaw” is an analogy referring to the possibilities of getting ripped apart when a journalist attempts to expose anything that the country’s big corporations and the government want to sweep under the carpet, out of the public’s eye. The system is determined to fight back and will do this by giving official lies and stonewalling. If members of the public read this book, they will definitely be horrified at what they discover. To the unversed reader, the descriptions of the happenings behind the scenes of big news organisations are, to say the least, shocking. Corporate executives will always do all that is within or without their power to muffle legitimate stories that they feel will negatively affect their ratings, displease their advertisers or even miff investors. The 18 pieces in the book depict the hard work of mainstream journalists who are dedicated to the principles of their line of work but then stumble upon the “buzzsaw” and consequently have their careers as well as their character eviscerated (Borjesson 88).
What this book has done is that it has helped the general public and journalists who hold dear their professional values realize that we have not yet been able to work out where to draw the line concerning free speech. The issue is made much more complex when it involves criticisms that may impact negatively the economic status of these corporations. It is indeed a very complex issue. When, for instance, Oprah Winfrey talks about the negatives of eating beef on her famous TV show, the possibility of beef producers incurring losses will be high. Oprah may argue that it being her own opinion and the fact that it was America, she was entitled to her own opinion. However, with millions of people watching her show, many will listen to her opinion and might even act on that opinion. The question thus begs, what if Oprah is wrong? In the Buzzsaw, thus provides journalists and the public as well information about the importance of being thorough in investigations.
When it is revealed that a major media house or journalist has skewed information and knowingly allowed reporters to report based on such falsehoods, then other media houses and journalist should stand up and condemn such acts. It encourages a sense of collective responsibility. A good example is when contributing journalist in the book, David Hendrix began tracking down what really happened to flight TWA 800 along the coast of Long Island. He, however, did not have any success with it. What he came out with at the end of it all were questions as to why other news agencies remained quite despite the amazing pieces of evidence and leads indicating that it was possible that the U.S Navy had by mistake shot down flight TWA 800 (Borjesson 56). The only possible explanation for major news agencies parroting governments’ version of different stories is that they do not have courage to report independently.
Looking at the modern news business, it is true to contend that profits have trumped the conventional sanctity of the byline. The current craze of media mergers has seen corporations convert media departments into entertainment segments. This is evident from the way television news programs have taken the shape of less splashy versions of Hollywood programs. We are faced with an era where media outlets have intentionally missed genuinely real stories perpetrated against the American general public by large corporations. Given this current state of affairs, Into the Buzzsaw, therefore comes at a time when investigative journalism is needed the most. It acts as a wake-up call to interested parties who want to know the truth and exactly who is fashioning this truth.
Most of those in-charge of local TV newscasts will agree that their investigative reporting has been weak over the years. Research has shown that only a very small percentage of news directors themselves feel that investigative journalism is doing a good job digging deep in an attempt to uncover and expose possible cover wraps. The book has thus raised the bar on investigative journalism and has encouraged journalists to make it a personal commitment. The aim is for oneself to personally dig deeper. In the book, the essayists made a personal commitment to follow up on leads that they believed would shade more light into the stories they were pursuing. When Kristina Borjesson herself was fired from CBS, she was asked to come up with a pilot for an investigative series (Borjesson 47). After gathering about thirty eye witnesses who would dispute the government’s version of the story regarding flight TWA 800 incident, she was called a lot of names by her very own peers. Despite this, she neither backed down nor retracted her on her report. Instead, she maintained her stand. It is this personal commitment that drove these journalists to compile their experiences and stories to write this book. David Hendrix, too, followed up on the story later and despite the fact that he was told that he was never going to find anything of substance, he proceeded with his investigations. Hendrix is of the thought that merely relying on the stories and threats of interested parties is what has made investigative reporting receive poor ratings.
From the time it was published, Into the Buzzsaw has been read by hundreds of thousands of people not only in the U.S but the world over. It has made the general public aware that the media play the game of its advertisers and investors. It is also public knowledge that what gets reported is mostly undigested and is almost always provided by the interested parties themselves. These developments have made the public demand more of media organisations and those that prove to have the courage to tackle serious and sensitive issues get more ratings. Over the past few years, media organisations have been trying to dissociate themselves from the notion that investigative journalism is expensive, that only ratings matter, that news is just another form of entertainment and that news that gets reported should be those that bring in money. The disconnect between what is reported and what is the reality that existed is today being dealt with strategically by media organisations. Journalists are initiating investigations on serious issues whenever they get the slightest whiff. All these have been made possible as a result the essays journalists in In the Buzzsaw wrote as well as other journalists who lay their lives on the line in search for the real truth.
Investigative journalism requires more than just funding. Journalists and in general media organisations must have the goodwill and the courage to tackle even the most sensitive of issues without fear of repercussions from the government, investors or sponsors. In the Buzzsaw has done precisely this, ensuring that the general public knows what has become of the media organisations and the conspiracies that these organisations have with the government and other business organisations. Despite the strides made in improving investigative journalism, a lot still needs to be done with more journalists like the essayists in In the Buzzsaw needed to clean up our the media sector.
Borjesson, Kristina. Into The Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth Of A Free Press. Amherst, N.Y:Prometheus Books,2004. Print.
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