not cheap nor easy
As people in the US struggle in the murk of the economic disaster, the international malaise, the unending Bush bravado, the inklings of the new administration, it would, one supposes, be up to the "fourth estate" to help it reach some stage of self-understanding - at least a couple of steps on the ladder.
But alas, the thinking, the perspectives and the conceptual systems that people might now turn to to help gain some awareness of, some insight into the current predicament are not folks that are exactly household names. Look for viewpoints from Naomi Klein, Seymour Hersh, Amy Goodman, Andrew Bacevich, Noam Chomsky and the like and you find precious little in the pages of the major newspapers, let alone amid the radio and broadcast television news outlets.
It's not that these non-mainstreamy folks are entirely right, or can explain everything. But it's that without their side of the picture, part of the picture remains obscure. Now that we're in deep shit, news organizations are having a difficult time explaining how we got here, because they left the conceptual apparatus behind - at the party where subprime mortgages were the toast of the town.
So when NPR and Bill Keller assume that newspapers "tell people what's happening," I have to beg to differ. They don't because they can't. They can't because they are beholden to advertising and marketing and their own industrial interests; it worked for them to ignore a portion of the spectrum of the thinking out there in presenting the world to their readers.
It worked because times were good, advertising capitalists were happy without Roubini and Goodman and Chomsky and sundry others. As Mr. Keller says, "Good journalism does n0t come cheap." The inexplicability of "what's happening" was less problematic, because house prices were rising -- at least according to the "lights" of the Times (if Mr. Friedman and Mr. Kristol etc. can be so qualified without teh qualifier enjoying an aneurism).
That home prices were rising and rising was, in fact, inexplicable. So long as the vector pointed up, that seems not to have perplexed the editors. How do they now imagine they can make this story intelligible?
Hit the lights on your way out, Bill.