Friday, October 31, 2014

Who Is The Star Tribune's Suki Dardarian? Part 2

For lack of a better term, I would say the feminine values are now the 
values of America, sensitivity is more important than truth, 
feelings are more important than facts.
--Bill Maher

Suki Dardarian is a past president of the Associated Press Media Editors (APME). This professional association might well qualify as the most sclerotic in existence. A quick check of its web site reveals it hasn't updated or modified its Statement of Ethical Principles since 1994. It's understandable, I suppose, given how rarely journalists are ethical.

Remember, before being welcomed by the liberal media borg extant in the Twin Cities, Dardarian lectured that ethics was the single most important quality anyone wanting to go into journalism could bring. It appears this is a one and done type thing in her world, a world of checklist boxes to be tic'd so as to verify that you are indeed sensitive, warm and inclusive by covering, at least once, those subjects to which the checklist boxes apply.

Liberals themselves are the ultimate social construct.

Dardarian's Twitter feed is nothing exceptional; it has a feel of duty about it until a real life friend punches through and a person emerges from the self-conscious newspaper manager. Otherwise it's the usual menu of stories from her own paper and other media outlets. A thoughtful person will rarely find anything thoughtful for them to click on in her feed.

Who Dardarian follows on Twitter exemplifies what someone who thinks news is "curated" would follow. This is why you'll find both the Heritage Institute account as well as the usual give aways, like Valerie Plame. You wonder if Dardarian even knows who Richard Armitage is?

What's interesting, though, is that Dardarian appears not to know how to use Twitter in any conversant sense and this is confirmed by her subscribing to only one public list: food trucks.

I swear I'm not making that up. Private lists exist so perhaps she has subscribed to several of them. Something tells me no, however. For someone who was supposed to have had large digital responsibilities, Dardarian's social media presence appears to be a flat circle of time.

* * * * 

She can, however, live tweet events when needed, as she did when she attend the 2014 APME conference in Chicago earlier this year. Membership is limited to those who hold senior positions of management in newspapers. The tweets were instructive. #Editors2014

For instance, we learned: "many news organizations don't really know what engages their readers." How odd. 

Then again, it's been said that journalism is the only business where the owners don't care what the customers think of their product. Eat the dog food.

We also learned in Chicago that Voxdotcom is "smartly starting to rewrite news media ecosystem rules." This sort of jargon means nothing but doubtless the attendees ate it up. Voxdotcom is a laughing stock on and off Twitter, with a horrible factual track record and almost daily corrections. Yes, American media, Ezra Klein is your answer. 

Finally, one got a sense of media's unwarranted self-importance and post-graduate abuse of language when one speaker said "We must ask, what is the promise of this collection of words?" Promise? Like life after death? For starters, how about: are the words accurate and free of bias? No, apparently the question is the promise. Of this collection of words. That no one will ever remember. 

* * * * 

About a month after being in the new but same job at the Star Tribune, Dardarian was interviewed by Scott Faegerstrom, which resulted in two separate, very good articles written by him for MinnPost. In them, we learn that she has cred because of the Pulitzers won by the Seattle Times and being past president of APME; the coins of the newspaper realm. 

Job one for her will involve "public service journalism." That's essentially another word for liberal agitprop but cosseted in the virtue of service. It isn't news reporting and it isn't even journalism, if such a thing still exits. Faegerstrom notes with approval that Dardarian is a woman because the week prior to the interview Jill Abramson of the New York Times had been fired and this, he notes, "aroused such ire." 

Why yes, women can't be fired when they screw up. Nor can blacks, latinos, asians, gays, lesbians, atheists or any other atomized demographic in the ridiculous worldview of liberalism. Abramson was fired because she was a bitch and couldn't work with people, as New York Times' sources put it anonymously. These are certified, tedious, New York City liberals making such comments, mind you. The reflexive support for her among the wider media simply because she was a woman underscored again how easy it is to be a liberal: stop thinking critically and go with the herd of individuals. 

Faegerstrom quotes one journalism professor as noting how similar Seattle is to Minneapolis and the lack of any challenge in moving professionally from one to the other: "I think this will be a very smooth, quick entry for her." But the game is given away when that professor says "It isn't like she's parachuting into Texas." God forbid. That would require real change and real diversity; she might even learn something new. Keep it comfortably numb, please, in Minneapolis. 

* * * * 

It's not news that newspapers are dying. Approximately only a third of Americans under the age of 35 look at a newspaper even once a week. Lately I've seen liberals I follow on Twitter tweet pictures of different sections of the Star Tribune and I'm always shocked at how thin and awful the pages look. Whatever the opposite of reading is, it invites it. 

Recently, Robert G. Kaiser wrote a piece called "The Bad News About The News." Kaiser spent more than half a century at The Washington Post as a reporter and editor. Journalists too often attach themselves to media outlets like barnacles; MPR, NPR and "public" television have disconcertingly large numbers of lifers. Can you imagine looking back over a career of such vapidity? 

At any rate, Kaiser laments a number of things about the current travails of newspapers. Craigslist wiped out the classified ad revenue (which 20 years ago accounted for more than a third of WaPo's revenue!) and circulation plummeted at the same time for a variety of reasons. He deserves credit for being forthright: "Despite two decades of trying, no one has found a way to make traditional news-gathering sufficiently profitable to assure its future survival."

At seventeen quickly read printed pages, I recommend the piece if you're at all interested in newspapers, journalism, the media and its collective future. You can do so by clicking here.

Of course Kaiser remains a creature of his time and of his intellectually monochrome mind, like most in media. He talks about the time before "digital technology" changed the world, noting that "the news was quite orderly and predictable." Well yes, Robert, wasn't that part of the problem, predictable news? And isn't putting it that way avoiding the unpleasant truth that elites, almost always liberal, suffused reporting with their many biases? It is. He goes on to observe that "[t]his small, nearly-closed world rarely provided any surprises." Quite.

In what for me was a moving passage demonstrating the power of intellectual blindness, if not bankruptcy, Kaiser asserts calmly that for "nearly four decades after World War II, mainstream journalism was notably non-ideological." No serious observer of media now, or any historian of modern media, would make such a statement. These creation myths of present day media are important to the Woodward & Bernstein generation of journalists who are reaching the end of their days. WaPo's Ben Bradlee recently died, a totem of not only an age gone by, but, for people like Kaiser, one that never really existed except in their minds. Everything passes and it is with that awareness one should be compassionate in assessing that generations' colossal media failures. 

* * * * 

It's virtually impossible to notice any change to the quality, tone, tenor and embedded bias to most Star Tribune reporting in the time since Dardarian arrived. This is a function, I believe, of both the bland sameness of reporters and employees there (including a batch of new reporters, all uniformly liberal and of widely varying talent) as well as her limited time as managing editor. She did, however, in the video interviews I linked to in part one of this topic, say that she believed a goal of good journalism was "to raise hell a little bit." 

I've searched but can find no evidence that Dardarian has done such in her career. Consequently, and at no charge, I thought I'd offer some hell raising suggestions for her to pursue as a government watchdog, brave speaker of truth to power and teller of stories that enrich the community:
  • Is Gov. Dayton mentally well enough to govern for another four years? Is he on any medications for mental illness, what are they, at which dosage levels and is he under the care of a psychiatrist?
  • Can the Governor hold a valid driver's license? Does he? If not, why not?
  • Have you ever suggested embedding a reporter, such as they are, to see if Dayton can manage a forty hour work week? 
  • If Tina Flint Smith is the functional governor of this state, which many in local media tell me is precisely the case, why would you not explore that in depth? 
  • Is there substantial public corruption among black politicians and black community activists that guilty white Twin Cities liberals are afraid of investigating aggressively?
  • Why such reticence to understand what caused that building in Cedar Riverside to explode? Hint: it wasn't a gas link.
  • What is the source of increased violence in Minneapolis? Why in a metropolis filled with earnest education liberals would there exist the nation's worst achievement gap? What isn't being looked at? 
I could go on but there's no need. For any inquisitive journalistic mind there wouldn't be enough hours in the day to cover things that would "raise hell a little bit." 

To make it hit home, why not a feature on whether your boss, Rene Sanchez, executive managing editor, is a white hispanic? That's the term the New York Times invented and applied to George Zimmerman to keep a white/black race narrative going. As a friend noted, by that logic President Obama is a white black. Welcome to your own world. 

Better yet, how about a series on the enormous violence between blacks and hispanics? What are its sources and what are its possible remedies? I realize your problem: this discussion of racial strife leaves out whites so of what possible use is it to the media?

* * * * 

The internet destroyed the liberal media monopoly that Robert Kaiser fondly recalls and which is missed daily by Social Justice Warriors in today's media. Matt Drudge running the spiked Michael Isikoff story on Monica Lewinsky & Bill Clinton was a watershed from which there was no return. 

Media bias could no longer hide and its agents no longer be seen as anything other than that which most are: democrats with a by line. It's only going to get worse, by which I mean not Lenin's imperative--the worse the better--but worse for a media that won't adapt to the new journalistic age and new expectations of honesty and fairness.

Before he died Andrew Breitbart called the media evil. It took me a long time to understand that he was right. But there was nothing else to call them when an NBC producer deliberately altered the audio from George Zimmerman's 911 telephone call to make him appear racist. That producer still works in television. 

The new journalism, the bloggers, the online start ups, the falsehood destroying power of Twitter, all this reminds me of what, years ago, was said by the critical legal studies movement's Roberto Unger about the legal education establishment. His words seem to me today, however, to apply more exactly and fully to citizen journalists against the media ancien régime:

"When we came, they were like a priesthood that had lost their faith and kept their jobs. They stood in tedious embarrassment before cold altars. But we turned away from those altars and found the mind's opportunity in the heart's revenge."

©2014 John Hugh Gilmore & Minnesota Media Monitor™ All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Suki Dardarian, Twitter.