A friend just sent along this link to a funny, but cynical, look at what it's like to be a reporter... One of the people who passed it along included a note saying, "This is a little 'game' that should given to every freshman that's thinking of going into journalism ... if there are any left."
He didn't say whether he meant to discourage them from pursuing that goal, or to encourage them to become reformers...
If you hold on to the end of the thing, you'll find a powerful attack on the independence of the press, attributed to a journalist named John Swinton. It's an old quote that makes the rounds of anti-establishment Web sites from both the left and the right. Few of them mention that Swinton wrote at the time of the Civil War, and further disguise the quote by dropping the dollar-figure from a line that said, "I am paid $150 weekly to..." That might give a hint that he was attacking the evils of 19th century capitalism, which had its differences from the 20th and 21st century versions,
whether you like them or not.
Despite media mergers and cutbacks, and the push to "infotainment" disguised as journalism, there are plenty of well-trained and serious journalists doing their job effectively, challenging authority, researching carefully, reporting fairly, and showing no fear of sacred cows. I like to think that some of today's students will be inspired create a "new journalism," as fair and accurate as the best of the old, but free of its advertising-supported cliches, conservatism and constraints.
Either way, the burst of cynical stereotypes in the little animated "game" sent me searching for sources of progressive views, integrity and optimism to pass back to my friend, so I'll put copies of the ones I sent her here, starting with some young journalists telling their own story...