Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Is The Medium The Message And Where Have All The Capital District Investigative Journalists Gone?

This is the second part of a three part series on Glenn Heller, outspoken critic of Alan Chartock and WAMC’s Northeast Radio Network. Yesterday we focused on Heller’s message, today his medium, and tomorrow on the man himself.

If Fred Dicker of the New York Post believes that Glenn Heller’s allegations of tax fraud by WAMC Northeast Radio Network and its CEO Alan Chartock are serious enough and supported enough by facts, that they should at least be investigated, then the question remains, why haven’t more of the Capital Region media addressed Heller’s allegations?

In some cases, the answer seems obvious.

Alan Chartock is the political commentator on WNYT.

Rex Smith, Editor and Vice President of The Albany Times Union, is a member of WAMC’s Media Project.

Alisa Streeter, news anchor at WTEN, is also a member of Chartock’s Media Project.

Copyright WAMC. All rights reserved.

Chartock is a columnist for The Berkshire Eagle and a syndicated columnist for other newspapers.

Another partial explanation is that there just isn’t much investigative journalism going on in the Capital District, and now that Judy Sanders is leaving WRGB there will be even less. Carl Strock, of The Gazette is the only active investigative journalist in the area. Sometimes The Times Union does a bit of investigative journalism.

A third explanation, as far as Heller’s allegations are concerned, is the medium he writes for--the internet. Even though the traditional media now provide news on the internet and have begun blogging, they are still suspicious of anything that originates on the internet. There is an incredible bias against any news that originates on the net. In reality though, no news originates on the net, just as no news originates in a newspaper.

The news makers produce the muck. The muckrakers only give the public what the muck producers leave on the ground, and whether it is a newspaper, a tv show or a blog that presents that muck to the world, what is the difference?

Heller has consistently said that the important thing is the message, not the medium or the messenger. I agree completely with him as far as the medium is concerned. There is a lot of junk on the internet, but that news stream flowing from television and the rest of the traditional news media isn‘t exactly a crystal river.

Where I disagree with Heller is his idea that the messenger doesn’t matter. I say it shouldn’t matter, but sometimes the messenger does get in the way of the message. In that respect, I think that Heller is his own worst enemy, and the man may be obscuring the message.

More on that tomorrow.


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