Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? [Who will watch the watchers?]”
–Juvenal, Roman satirist c.100 AD

Truth, justice OR the American way, you can’t have both ways these days. Clark, Lois and Jimmy cost too much. They got raises back in the day. They take more sick leave now and they require constant re-training. They even expect loyalty! So they had to be voluntarily retired.

The founding myth of journalism is that it was a calling where you put up with the crappy hours and wages to keep the public safe and free, free from those who’d deny them all that. Young folk entering the media info-tainment industry these days don’t believe they are making anyone free or safe; they know it just about the clicks. Kids, these days, know not to expect a career here. They will punch the clock until they are replaced, or leave to a better paying gig, in 5 years or so. They’ll learn to do something else, anything else, whatever pays the rent. A career is so last century.

Big Media would like to write off the redundant old-school journalists like they would any other fully depreciated office equipment. They’d love to replace the cranky 50-somethings with more efficient 20-somethings for half the price. But they can’t just fire people when they turn 50—that’s against the law, for now.

So they do general layoffs, mixing in just the right amount of youthful under-performers to keep the feds off their backs. Then they make the survivors work lives miserable, hoping they will leave on their own. The tech-savvy ones do, they go behind the scenery, to become indifferent but well paid, means to others ends. The radicals will go rogue (write blogs, start twitter wars and so on) and the pretty ones will move to TV.

But most who leave, voluntarily or not, will go to PR, advertising and government jobs, even teaching what they used to do. Journalism was once believed to be a calling, a career devoted to promoting the common good; Journalists thought they were better than those hacks and flacks. But these day those jobs look pretty good, they have living wages and normal hours plus way more security.

But some stay in the business, but no longer as journalists. The “joke” in the news room was that after two promotions—first to editor from journalist, then to manager from editor—a journalist lost all her professional ethics and human empathy, in other word became a monster.

And these monsters continue to promote themselves further from journalism, up the big media corporate chain of command to where they eventually become identical to the sociopathic self-aggrandizing villainy personified, they pretend to fight. The journalist is no longer a disguise for the hero but one for the villain.

And worse, superheros as well as the requisite monsters they fight (roles that change as simply as channels, you know) are nothing but actors—or sadly, politicians—playing them on TV spectacles for the benefit of those who make them at the expense of those who pay to view.

And “This just in…” from my former employer…

and some old news…