Notre Dame Journalist Says IndyStar Lacks Moral Compass

MUNCIE, Indiana BLOG – It’s rare we get to read an article containing muckraking against Gannett by a former employee, yet still a journalist with a reputable organization. If you want to maintain a job within your profession, it’s best if you don’t bash one of the largest publishers in the country. However, when you work for Notre Dame, you must feel a certain freedom to tell the truth. It also helps to have a name like Brendan O’Shaughnessy while working at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

Not only did Brendan share the truth about his former Gannett employer in, A House Divided, he shared an excellent piece about the destruction of the American Dream; our democracy; our way of life. It’s not an opinion piece. It’s a collection of verified facts. I’d strongly recommend it to both conservatives and liberals.

Brendan said he finally left the IndyStar in 2009 when he personally experienced:

The final blow elegantly revealed the truth. Gannett corporate asked the company’s 30,000 or so remaining workers to accept a 10 percent pay cut for the good of the team. Actually, they threatened a 15 percent pay cut if we didn’t vote to approve our own pay cut. It narrowly passed because the reporters were committed to saving the paper and its fourth-estate mission of being a watchdog of the powerful.

Except the company was making money, just less than before. The purpose of the pay cut was so the company could hit the profit targets set by the board. That way, the top executives could share a personal bonus pool that would come from the savings the cuts produced. After checking the numbers, a guild leader finally asked our publisher if the cuts were funding the bonuses. She publicly acknowledged it, saying that is how business works.

Brendan nails the Gannett executives pretty good, but let’s look beyond the dollars and cents. The entire purpose of a free and independent press is to hold our government accountable.

There are no alternative motives for our press. It’s not supposed to hold inserts for large consumer retail chains. It’s not to make giant profits for investors. It’s not to pad retirement accounts for the CEO’s, or pay dividends to shareholders.

The goal of a newspaper is to “serve the will of the people” by holding elected officials accountable. Period.

And, the role of the government sector is holding the private sector (capitalist economy) accountable. Period.

We need these two components for a full functioning democracy.

It is safe to say that our press now serves the will of CEO’s and investors; the public sector serves its donors; and the private sector serves the bankers.

Any discussion, belief system, or opinion, which hasn’t confirmed these three points is propaganda or rhetoric. Period. There is overwhelming evidence in the Summer of 2015 to prove beyond doubt these irrefutable truths.

As for the press, 85% of all media we listen to, watch, or read, is owned by six large companies. Of the top paid CEO’s, all six of the media CEO’s are in the top 10 highest paid executives, according to the New York Times.

As for the government, the influence of money is well established and there are hundreds, if not, thousands of organizations operating to either seek or eliminate the influence money has over our government. The best way to identify the magnitude is check out Open Secrets website. As they state at the top of their page:

“The primary goal of much of the money that flows through U.S. politics is this: Influence. Corporations and industry groups, labor unions, single-issue organizations – together, they spend billions of dollars each year to gain access to decision-makers in government, all in an attempt to influence their thinking.

As for the private sector, the “job creators”, or those responsible for creating the opportunity to live out the “American Dream”, Brendan quotes moral heavyweights like Pope Francis, all the way to Robert Putnum. Our personal favorite is Nobel laureate, Joseph Stiglitz. Brendan writes:

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate and economics professor at Columbia University, says our country has clung to the fantasy of the American dream — opportunity and mobility — to explain away the growing income gap. But his 2012 book, The Price of Inequality, concludes that this is no longer possible. “It’s not that social mobility is impossible, but that the upwardly mobile American is becoming a statistical oddity,” he wrote in a summary article for The New York Times. “Americans are coming to realize that their cherished narrative of social and economic mobility is a myth.”

Brendan did fail to mention Thomas Piketty, who published Capital in the 21st Century last year. According to Piketty, “Since 2009, corporate profits, dividend payouts, and the stock market have all risen sharply, but wages have barely budged. As a result, according to calculations by Piketty and Saez, almost all of the income growth in the economy between 2010 and 2012—ninety-five per cent of it—accrued to the one per cent.”

As you can see, opportunity only exists for those at the very top. We can point to countless other narratives about our current conditions, but most people agree that our economy is not working for most Americans. It’s clearly not just the economy or politics – both are working against us.

Brendan does an excellent job supporting his case with reputable sources to support his views on our reality – including sociological, moral, economics and politics. Sound points made with credible sources.

We also enjoyed his enlightening conclusion:

Can the average person limit the influence of money in lobbying and campaigning, reform the tax code and enhance economic mobility? Can the American dream of fairness and opportunity be restored?

If people believe that the solutions are outside of their control and therefore not their responsibility, then it seems doubtful. But reform starts with individual attitudes. Accept the status quo or call for change?

When we saw that the locally owned Gannett newspaper was nothing more than a lost profit seeker which took from the community instead of serving it, we knew something had to be done differently. Since that time, we discovered that a near majority of our 4th branch of government has abandoned its role in our society while our government is being auctioned off to the highest bidder. We’ve also watched how the same entities buying up our public sector have used their influence to get contracts, subsidies, tax advantages, etc.

In case you missed it, even the New York Times is getting hammered for conveniently bowing to the powers in Washington, yet again. In Glenn Greenwald’s latest article about “journalists” at the newspaper quoting anonymous sources, he writes:

That the New York Times mindlessly disseminates claims from anonymous officials with great regularity is, at this point, too well-documented to require much discussion. But it is worth observing how damaging it continues to be, because, shockingly, all sorts of self-identified “journalists” — both within the paper and outside of it — continue to equate unverified assertions from government officials as Proven Truth, even when these officials are too cowardly to attach their names to these claims, as long as papers such as the NYT launder them.

If we can’t trust the New York Times to hold the powerful accountable, who can we trust?

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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