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Column: What We Say

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / April 27, 1998

Employment in this country is good but I fear for the budding young journalism graduates, out to set the world on fire, make their reputations, slay the dragons of the world and ascend to the highest peaks of the so- called “liberal elite media.” There just aren’t that many good dragonsanymore.

Oh, once upon a time, when hard-drinking, two-fisted, fighting young yellow-journalists stalked the corridors of power, it was a time of mighty dragons. They had the likes of Big Business, and Racial Oppressionand Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. Nowadays, we have PresidentClinton and his alleged girlfriends stalked by talking heads from “Entertainment Tonight.”To be sure, there’s still the spectre of “environmental racism” and the occasional two-bit hothead such as Saddam Hussein but it’s tough for a young journalist to feel he is part of a holy crusade. We will always haveincompetant, greedy or lust-filled politicians but in the days of Nixon- Agnew, we waged battles and won wars.

I remember doing a live radio news broadcast when a fellow reporter burst into the engineer’s booth to show me an AP bulletin that Vice- President Spiro Agnew had just resigned from office. I immediatelylaunched into an ad-libbed breaking news bulletin. Granted, my audiencelikely consisted of a handful of drunken bowlers and a few nerds in the dorm but I felt that heady flush of righteous victory over the oppressor.

What will the journalists of the future get to deal with? Tipper Gore’s revitalized assault on rock lyrics? It just doesn’t compare with the good fights to inform America about racial oppression in the 1950s and 1960s.

Even scandal is blase’. Back in the 1950s, when Ingrid Bergman had a childout of wedlock, she was hounded from Hollywood in shame and disgrace.

Now, when Jodie Foster has the audacity to get pregnant and not bother to mention the father’s identity, she is celebrated as a paragon of womanly independence.

Yes, times are truly tough for the fighting young journalist of today. Ourmedia founding fathers fought with pens as their swords powerful dragons of fear, terrorism and greed. Now, the tough coverage goes to those peopleseeking a book deal.

A student of history such as myself enjoys those rich little ironies in the reporting game There are still dragons but our swords smite them down almost too quickly. There are still battles to be waged, to be sure, but somuch of the heart has gone out of the warriors.

The American people, consequently, are bombarded with so much, so quickly, it’s harder to focus on what’s truly important. They’re too busyenraptured with the battles on Jerry Springer or who’s suing Oprah this month.

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