Business Opinion

The Media – The Enemy Within

Image created by Bob Carr

American Media … The Enemy Within

By Bob Carr

I saw this bumper sticker recently. I may need to carry a Sharpie. I would have added a question mark.

I do not love the term “Media.” There is Corporate “Media” and there is Journalism, which are not, necessarily, the same. For the purpose of the bumper sticker I believe that the driver would disagree with my premise. I can surmise this because I have had discussions in person, and on social media, about this very subject and the two terms/words are muddled into one. I recently heard a statistic that 55% of Americans trust corporations while less than 40% trust media.

Again, that term. It implies news and news implies journalism but they are distinctly different. A hurricane is news. The reporting on the aftermath of a hurricane – should houses be rebuilt, should infrastructure be reimagined, are insurance claims being honored, what are the public policy choices being considered (what is rebuilt, what is not), without interjected opinion – is journalism.

I am not a journalist. I am a partner in, and a co-founder of, We-Ha.com. We are a hyperlocal news organization that exclusively covers West Hartford, CT. Over the past nine-plus years I have been given the opportunity to get to know numerous journalists. I meet weekly, via Zoom with a cohort of digital news organizations that range from Rhode Island to Washington State. These are primarily bootstrap news outlets filling a void where the local newspapers have been shuttered. There have been more than 2,500 newspapers – approximately 20% of all U.S. newspapers – closed since 2005. In many of the places that still have a local newspaper local stories are rarely covered. The papers are filled with nationally distributed stories, aka ghost newsrooms.

Most, if not all, of these new digital news sites that report on local, or state, issues are run by trained journalists and editors. Many of the journalists I talk with, that run these local news sites, struggle every single month to keep the lights on. Why do they do it? Because, to a person, they are committed to delivering credible, and properly sourced, information so that the public can make informed decisions. Many journalists could make a very nice living working in public relations or advertising. Yet they choose to struggle financially because they understand that what they do, as journalists, is necessary for the public good.

I sit on the board of a nonprofit news organization and the executive director was only paid for 30 hours a week while working more than 40. She was doing freelance work to support her “nonprofit news habit.”  We, as a board, have since corrected that particular issue. Plus, we provided raises to staff. The end result is we need to double our fundraising efforts to meet the higher salaries and benefits. If we can’t we will need to lay off staff. That is the conundrum for so many small news organizations. If they pay a reasonable wage, even by journalist standards, there is a real possibility of layoffs or closing.

Here in West Hartford, Ronni Newton is underpaid for the work she does. I know because I write the checks. Most of the ownership of We-Ha.com receive minimal compensation for our work and we all, other than Ronni, make a living doing something else. We-Ha.com is in the fortunate position to have a working relationship with TurleyCT, publisher of West Hartford LIFE among other titles. Through a handshake arrangement Ronni is compensated to be the editor of West Hartford LIFE in collaboration with We-Ha.com.

I would ask that our readers, if they like an article in a publication that asks for a contribution, please make the contribution. Start local and independent. Local news has been decimated by the loss of ad revenue which has led directly to many being purchased, and gutted, by private equity firms or publicly-traded news companies. One of the exceptions to this statement is the Hearst Corporation, which locally, is a direct competitor of We-Ha.com. Hearst is a privately-held corporation that, over the past several years, has managed to invest in its multiple newsprint properties.

We are very fortunate in Connecticut to have 20 or so local, daily newspapers. We have dailies in all of our major cities, and some minor cities. Connecticut readers also support a variety of weekly and monthly newspapers that report on local happenings and local government. I still buy local papers. I travel frequently and I will buy the local paper, wherever I am, to get a feel for the local news and how it is covered. In Connecticut I am fond of the Waterbury Republican-American, The Meriden Record Journal and the New London Day – all still locally owned and operated. I also regularly read, CTNewsJunkie.com which is a We-Ha.com news partner. CTNewsJunkie does a tremendous job covering the
Connecticut state capital.

Would We-Ha.com welcome your contributions? Absolutely. In order to survive long term, we need to expand our revenue streams. However, my appeal is for our readers to recognize a few dollars for a printed paper, or news magazine, or a contribution for a story you’ve read on the web, one you would not get anywhere else, will go a long way to keeping newsrooms open and doing our most important job – keeping you informed.

Bob Carr is a managing partner of We-Ha.com.

We-Ha.com will accept Op-Ed submissions from members of the community. We reserve the right to edit all submitted content.

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About the author


We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].

1 Comment

  • Respectfully, I do not interpret the bumper sticker as an indictment of either news reporting or journalism. Fair news reporting and good, non-biased journalism are vital components for a well informed democracy.

    Unfortunately, fair news reporting and impartial journalism are as rare as well funded local newsrooms – and have been replaced with poorly researched hearsay (posing as news) and extremely biased opinion (masking as journalism).

    An event takes place. If news were reported fairly, most news outlets would report the same set of facts (an extremely difficult job, by the way). Not so. Various outlets skew the facts to fit an opinion agenda, choosing which to include, emphasize, or ignore.

    Sadly, this same highly selective reporting of “news” inevitably, and seamlessly, transitions to opinion and speculation in the very same snippet. This is neither news or journalism. This is simply advocacy or propaganda depending on the amount of distortion.

    “Media”, on the bumper sticker, refers to this extreme skewing of facts and substitution of opinion for non-biased journalism.

    So, in today’s world, you have to pick your national media based on political belief, not fact based reporting. You listen and watch commentators (note I do not use the word reporters or journalist) who are nothing more than advocacy shills…

    It is the substitution of opinion and advocacy for news and journalism that is making “Media” the enemy within. And responsible for the low “trust” numbers. Blindly adhering to rigid opinion and ignoring facts is what has infected our society, and it a race to the bottom as to who is trusted less: political leaders, the supreme court, the president of the US, national media, and the police.

    Kudos to the local journalists who do try hard to report the news as news. Doubly so when their journalism is based on a clear analysis of hard researched facts. Triply so when they label their opinions as, well, opinions.

    I long for the day when the evening news was 25 minutes of news and journalism and perhaps 2 minutes of opinion (usually by the Ed Grant type station manager). Sadly, it has been replaced with 25 minutes of opinion, hate, and advocacy with the occasional 2 minutes of fact based reporting thrown in.

    The standard news cast today starts with “America is very divided…” and then goes on a left or right political rant aimed to do accomplish that very goal. Divide us. Obscure the facts, skew the facts, let’s get right to what makes you mad. And what will make you donate money to politicians.

    That model is the enemy within us.

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