Thursday, December 30, 2010

An “Off-Duty” Grandpa’s Perspective On Autism

Just after the beginning of the current School-Year, I started working, as a Para-Educator, with 10 little guys in a Special Program (Structured Communication Center) Class. The “Special Program” is for kids, ranging in age from six to 11, who have challenges, primarily, stemming from Autism. Other contributing factors include some retardation in mental and/or physical development. Those closest to me know how this came about. If you’re surprised to learn that I’ve been working in this capacity, I’ll provide some explanation later. But, first, I want to tell you about what a wonderful unexpected and unplanned (by me) blessing this has been.

When I say “unexpected”, one aspect of this is that I have to admit, if a basic job description for this position had been given to me before I started, it’s likely that my reaction would have been, “Whoa, that’s not for me!” That, in fact, has been a common reaction I’ve gotten when I’ve told others what I’ve been doing. It has seemed that their summary view of the job is as a babysitter for some really hard-to-be-with kids. With that in mind, I want to share some details about my experience.

The Guys

Each of my “10 little guys” has a unique story. I’d love to share their stories with you, in complete detail, in order to share the blessing I’ve received through my experience with them. However, doing that would inappropriately compromise their privacy. Hopefully, without improperly disclosing private details, the following summaries of my experience with each of these “little guys” will help you connect with my sense of being blessed through this:

- A seven-year-old whose challenges include a soft pallet – The first time I heard him speak, I had no clue what he said. Later, I learned that he is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and that his IQ is higher than anyone else in the class, including the adults. Corrective surgery (for the soft pallet) has been a consideration but, presently, it appears that this will self-correct, with growth. It’s great to hear him speak more clearly, daily, while seeing him progress with his curriculum and to be able to move to taking more of his subjects in Gen Ed classes.

- An 11-year-old, who is probably the most challenged kid in the class … probably more like what I and others have in mind when we say, “Whoa, that’s not for me!” Trying to work with him can be very frustrating. I’ve had more than one occasion where my sessions with him involved him slumped on the floor, while I waited for him to become compliant. On the other hand, I’ve had him go through multiple exercises for simple rewards and a high-five. My favorite times with this “little guy”, so far, have been when he just looks me in the eye and smiles or laughs or when he walks over to put his head on my chest or when his exercises are done and he can sit in his rocker while we listen to a James Taylor CD. Although I do nothing to violate the school district’s policy relative to “the separation of Church and State”, I’ve found that my silently praying for my “little guys” is acceptable and I know it’s good. As you might guess, this is how I spend much of my time with this particular “little guy”.

- Another seven-year-old, whose biggest challenge is the need for routines and dealing with any changes to those routines - Sometimes it’s possible to reason him through this and some times he just “melts down” and ends up in the Quiet Room, which is available for helping to deal with “melt downs”. My most notable experience with this involved Recess. I had marveled at the complexity of a routine that this “little guy” would follow, repeatedly, on the playground. One day, as he was running this routine, he looked at me and said, “Wap, Wap.” I asked him what he meant and again, he said, “Wap, Wap.” I, then, said, “What is that? Is it a sound?” He said, “Yes.” So, I asked what makes that sound?” and he answered, “Two Waps.” This “little guy” can be quite amusing so, at first, I sort of thought he was making a joke. Eventually, I figured out that he was telling me he was running laps (Waps) and he was keeping count. When I mentioned this to the Teacher, I discovered that this is a behavior known as “Stemming” and that it is to be discouraged. As you might expect, the first time I had to deal with discouraging this on the playground, this “little guy” ended up in the Quiet Room. Thankfully, we discovered that by taking a soccer ball out to the playground and kicking it around with him, encouraged him to use the soccer ball to interact with the other students and since then, no more “Waps”.

- One other seven-year-old is easily the most natural athlete in the class. I’ve said he is like “a Cirque du Soleil performer, in training.” Most of his time on the playground, he spends by himself on a swing. I’ve seen him swing high enough that, on the back-swing, he is looking at me over the top bar of the swing set. On one occasion, at the height of his forward-swing, I saw him dismount. As you might expect, this nearly caused heart failure in me but he perfectly “stuck” the landing. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for a gym program where he could fit in and fully develop his athletic gifts. The flipside of this is that getting him to do anything that isn’t athletic can be very difficult and since he is “easily the most natural athlete in the class”, getting him to be compliant is a challenge … dealing with his aggression can require more than one adult. The fact that he is completely non-verbal makes dealing with this even more difficult. With all this said, when you do get him to sign a new word and he gives you an ear-to-ear smile, as you give him a reward and a high-five, you truly relish that small progress.

- The six other “little guys” in the class have their unique stories too. The biggest and oldest is still quite innocent and he knows more about dinosaurs and the eras they lived in than anyone else I know. Another 11-year-old has some genetic defects that have significantly weakened him physically and mentally. You couldn’t ask for a sweeter little guy, though. Some place along the way, he must have really enjoyed Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Almost anytime he is asked about a name, you can hear him softly say, almost under his breath, “Gaston!” Another “little guy” has the attention span of a puppy but his graceful athleticism, his flair for the dramatic and his tendency to find anything he can find to wear as a mustache could lead him to Hollywood. A 10-year-old is one of the most difficult personalities to deal with because, when given a behavior choice, he will consistently go with the most annoying. Though it requires extreme patience, underneath that you find an ability to be quite tender with others. One other seven-year-old can be unresponsive or very slow to respond and his verbalization is very little and very subdued. When he does pay attention, though, you can tell that he has much more intelligence than you might give him credit for. Last but not least is the smallest “little guy” in the class. Although he has some challenges with socialization, communication and learning; his biggest challenge is his need for eating therapy. He’s a lovable little character and if the eating therapy can be successful, his growth and development should improve.

As I’m sure you can tell by now, these “10 little guys” had me by the heart in no time flat. By the end of my first week, I found myself thinking about things like how much I’d like to be present to see two of them (who currently do work at about the same level) walk across a stage to get their High School Diplomas. Much of this may come from the fact that I consider myself an “Off-Duty Grandpa.” I have three grandchildren who are close to being grown up, who live about 2500 miles away. Though I’ve wanted them to be a part of my life and vice versa, that hasn’t happened. I, also, have a 2 3/4–year-old Grandson who lives about 1000 miles away. We’re more a part of each other’s lives but the 1000 miles keeps that relationship from being all we would like for it to be. I guess the Net result of this is that there was a pretty good sized empty spot in this “Off-Duty” Grandpa’s heart that these “10 little guys” fit right in to.

Keys To The Lock

Although I can’t give you specifics about my “10 little guys”, without inappropriately compromising their privacy, I want to encourage you to check out some related stories that are publicly available. One of these stories can be found in a book entitled Unlocked. Coincidentally, during my first couple of weeks working with my “10 little guys”, this book was released by, a local Christian Writer, named Karen Kingsbury. A local newspaper article says that Unlocked is about “kindness that unlocked a soul” by helping a boy “… break through the barriers of Autism.”

Among the great blessings for me, working in this Special Program, has been getting to witness six other adults working tirelessly to do all that they can to help my “10 little guys” find the “keys to the locks” of their individual “barriers.” The Special Program Class that I’ve been working in is part of an, otherwise, General Education K-5 Elementary School. The class is headed up by a Certificated Special Education Teacher, who is assisted by six Para-Educators. Two of these folks are Moms who have “little guys” of their own at home who are dealing with the challenges of Autism. Another is a woman who has raised 10 kids of her own plus she has worked in Special Ed for over 12 years. These are truly amazing people that I’ve been honored to work alongside.

I’ve, also, been blessed to get acquainted with some extraordinary parents. Here too, it’s necessary for me to discuss this in a way that doesn’t inappropriately compromise privacy. So, I’ll just note that I’ve witnessed the difference a family can make, resulting in one “little guy” being among the most high-functioning in our class when his diagnosis might lead you to expect him to be more along the lines of the “hard-to-be-with kids” folks have in mind when they say, “Whoa, (that job is) not for me!”

Beauty From Ashes

As a man of faith, one of the most important related aspects to a topic like this is to address questions like, “Why would a loving God make ‘your little guys’ Autistic?” For me, the answer is pretty simple, “He didn’t.” There was no Autism in the Garden of Eden and there will be no Autism in Heaven. Autism only exists in this Fallen World. What a loving God does about that is the important observation to make. I think this is best expressed in Scripture, in Isaiah 61:3 where it says that God’s aim is “To give them beauty for ashes.”

The adults I’ve mentioned in this article are great examples of this. These are all intelligent, well-educated, attractive people who could be “doing better for themselves” in a number of other pursuits. But, they are following what God put in their hearts to lovingly pour all they can into these “little guys” in order that they can do “better for themselves.”

God has seen to it that my own story falls under this heading too. Earlier, I said, “If you’re surprised to learn that I’ve been working in this capacity, I’ll provide some explanation later.” Well, a full explanation will require another article but here’s a bit about that. When Ruth (my Wife) and I decided to move to this area from Southern California, about 5 ½ years ago, we felt led by the Lord to do so. Our plan and expectation was that, with our changed circumstances, we would be fine financially with me working at a mid-level Sales or Sales Management job, while Ruth wouldn’t have to work, if she didn’t want to. After more than two years of things not going the way we expected for me, we decided it would be prudent for Ruth to go back to work. As you might expect, we were regularly wondering why God had led us here and why things weren’t going the way we had expected them to. My first glimpse of starting to understand this involved the job that Ruth ended up in. Actually, I need to be circumspect about that too. Let me just say that her job involves working with some youngsters whose epitaph, according to me, would surely be “Never Had A Chance!”, if it wasn’t for the work that Ruth and her colleagues are doing. When I started hearing some of the successes coming out of that environment, I started recognizing why God had called Ruth out of Orange County. Eventually, I even recognized that “things not going the way we expected for me” was a circumstance God had used to get Ruth where He wanted her. Since I’m not the “quick-study” in our family, it took me another three years to get where I am. There are numerous details that I could share about what went on with me in those three years but the important thing is that I finally found the door that the Lord had opened for me and on the other side, I found an “Off-Duty” Grandpa and “10 little guys” who really needed each other.

Before moving on from how my story falls under this heading, I want to share an important aspect about how some folks have reacted to my doing this work. My background is primarily in Sales. In recent years, I’ve developed a minor reputation as a Writer. Considering that and how different it is from the work that I’m doing as a Para-Educator, it’s understandable that this has taken some folks by surprise. Beyond that, I’ve sensed that some may think that, in using my time to do the work I’m doing, I’m wasting “greater talents.” This came out most poignantly for me, when I attended an event where a wealthy friend of mine was featured as the Keynote Speaker. One thing I admire most about this friend is the metaphor he uses to express his view of the wealth God has blessed him with. He views himself as “One of God’s UPS Drivers” and he says, “As long as I deliver what He puts on my truck where and how He wants it delivered, He keeps putting more stuff on my truck.” While this friend was speaking, at the event I mentioned, another friend and I were commenting on what a wonderful job the Keynote Speaker was doing of using the talents God has blessed him with. Then, she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You should be doing the same with your talents.” I didn’t ask but I think she had my writing ability in mind. Anyway, I responded by leaning over and saying, “You’re familiar with the metaphor that (the Keynote Speaker) uses about being one of God’s UPS Drivers?” She nodded “Yes.” Then I said, “Well, He gave me a school bus. It has 10 really important packages on it. It was totally unexpected but that’s what He gave me.”

Another great story that falls under this heading involves a well-known man who I admire … Chuck Colson. Again, “coincidentally”, during my first couple of weeks, working with my “10 little guys”, I heard Colson and his Daughter, Emily, on Focus On The Family’s radio broadcast. The Colsons were on to talk about Emily’s book Dancing With Max, the story of Emily and her Son, Max, who is Autistic. As you may know, Chuck Colson had a career as a Marine and he served in the Nixon Administration. He, also, served time in prison for his role in Watergate and coming out of prison, he founded the now overwhelmingly successful Prison Fellowship Ministries. With all that understood, Colson said that the two most daunting circumstances in his life were facing going to prison and watching his Daughter, as a single-parent, raise a child, who is Autistic . Out of this, though, came a man whose life had been too busy to spend much time with his Daughter when she was growing up, who now spends time with Max as his only “agenda item” and when he does this, of course, he is spending time with that Daughter, Max’s Mom. Now there is some really great “Beauty from ashes”!

Your Turn!

When working with these “little guys”, especially the non-verbal ones, it’s not uncommon to show them how the task before them is done and then to say, “Your turn!” In closing, I want to encourage as many as I can to consider how you can take “Your turn!” and be the source of kindness that can “unlock” souls by helping our children break through their individual barriers.

In case you haven’t noticed, my “10 little guys” are all guys. I think it was my second day on the job when I asked the Teacher, “Where are the girls?” The answer is that Autism is mostly found in boys. Not long after that, I thought about the staff and the opposite question struck me, “Where are the guys?” Aside from me, the rest of the staff is female. In fact, there are 51 employees at our school and only seven are male. Sadly, it’s all too common to hear stories like that of Emily Colson ... a child is born, who is Autistic and the Dad disappears. Hopefully, something I’ve said about my “10 little guys” and how working with them has blessed me will inspire others to do likewise. But, I really want to encourage more guys to do so. Seeing a good example of an adult guy being an adult guy can make a world of difference to these “little guys.”

If you’d like to learn more about Autism and start getting a better idea where you might fit in and help, a couple of good places to start are Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of America.

Especially For My Pro-Life Friends

The Pro-Life organizations I’m familiar with do all they can to provide the help needed for babies who have challenges that some would use as justification for their abortion. Babies born with Down Syndrome may be the most common example here. However, I don’t know how active Pro-Life organizations are in helping to provide for the needs of babies born with Autism. Perhaps that’s because the cause for Autism is, as yet, unknown. But, it’s being worked on and once it is known, I fear, prenatal testing will be developed for Autism. Joni Eareckson Tada recently released a book, entitled Life in the Balance, that broadly addresses this. A thumbnail description of Life in the Balance says:

Life in the Balance helps readers discover answers to the difficult issues covered by the evening news (street violence, abortion, autism, genocide and stem-cell research).”

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Chuck Colson wrote the Foreword for Life in the Balance. In that, Colson says:

“Joni will teach you how to fight on behalf of those who are quietly being targeted for extermination.”

My encouragement to my Pro-Life friends is, if you’re already involved in helping to provide for the needs of babies born with Autism, remain diligent and be alert to the mounting threat alluded to in Life in the Balance. And, obviously, if this is a topic that has eluded your attention to some degree, I want to encourage your awareness and your activism.

Late Breaking News!

One detail I’ve left out here is that I actually came into this role as a Substitute Para-Educator. The woman who was doing this job moved, with her Husband, to another part of the country. After my first week on the job, the Teacher asked me to continue as a Sub, until the job was filled permanently and she asked me to apply for the job. I did but a person who is already a full-time employee in the school district also applied and of course, she had seniority. So, it looked like my sixth week would be my last week with my “10 little guys.” Surprisingly, the other applicant decided to stay in her current job. The job was formally offered to me, I accepted and since then, I’ve been working as a full-time Special Program Para-Educator. Yay!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An NPR-like Press – A Next-Key-Element in the Liberal Agenda

Red County

It was interesting to watch the recent dust-up between Ted Koppel, the 42-year veteran of ABC News and Keith Olbermann, the one-time Sportscaster and Current MSNBC Commentator. Probably like many Conservatives, I have to admit to some perverse pleasure derived from watching a couple of flaming Liberals trying to knock the soup out of each other. Unfortunately, that entertaining aspect of the story obscured an underlying theme where it seems many Liberals are in agreement – i.e. A State-run Press is the ideal (Utopian) solution to the continuing decline of “traditional” American Journalism.

Although a State-run Press is the consistent solution offered up by Liberals, their views on the cause are often diametrically opposed. In Koppel’s case, corporate profits are seen as the villainous cause. Ironically, the other most common cause cited by other Liberals is the lack of corporate profits. This may be best detailed in a book entitled The Death and Life of American Journalism.

Koppel’s perspective on “villainous corporate profits”, as leading the way to the deterioration of the American Press, is summed up in his Washington Post article entitled The case against news we can choose, where he says:

“What we really need in our search for truth is a commodity that used to be at the heart of good journalism: facts - along with a willingness to present those facts without fear or favor.

To the degree that broadcast news was a more virtuous operation 40 years ago, it was a function of both fear and innocence.

Network executives were afraid that … the Federal Communications Commission (would) suspend or even revoke their licenses.

On the innocence side of the ledger, meanwhile, it never occurred to the network brass that news programming could be profitable. Until, that is, CBS News unveiled its ‘60 Minutes’ news magazine in 1968.

Much of the American public used to gather before the electronic hearth … (for) relatively unbiased accounts of information that their respective news organizations believed the public needed to know.”

My reaction to this echoed Jack Shafer’s opening observation in Slate, in an article entitled Ted Koppel, Bad Reporter, where he said:

“I know of no more sorry a spectacle than the wizened newsman weeping with nostalgia for the golden age of journalism—which just happens to coincide with his own glory days.”

Shafer’s general assertion in his article is that Koppel is just “dead wrong” about certain claims he makes. However, he doesn’t address Koppel’s declaration about “the heart of good journalism being facts, along with a willingness to present those facts without fear or favor.” I think he’s “dead wrong” there too. Just think about Harvest of Shame, the 1960 documentary hosted by Edward R. Murrow, the leading Saint of American Broadcast Journalism to Koppel and his peer-group. No doubt, Harvest of Shame is a great example of American Journalism shining the light of truth on the sordid conditions of American migrant agricultural workers of that day but to say that the related facts were presented “without fear or favor” isn’t even close to the truth. In fact, one might argue that the “fear” and “favor” aspects of that documentary were essential for the positive impact of that journalistic effort. Regardless of the good that I believe resulted from the work of Murrow and his colleagues, with Harvest of Shame, I think the “fear or favor” evident in that work should give us all pause, to consider the implications of Koppel’s comment that “Much of the American public used to gather before the electronic hearth … (for) relatively unbiased accounts of information that their respective news organizations believed the public needed to know.”

The primary target of Shafer’s “dead wrong” assertion, however, is Koppel’s claim about those “villainous corporate profits.” To support his assertion, Shafer cites Michael J. Socolow’s paper, in Journalism, that details “The myth that network news didn’t make money (until Don Hewitt birthed 60 Minutes) owes its origin to artful bookkeeping.”

Before digging into how The Death and Life of American Journalism conflicts with Koppel, in terms of the cause of the present decline of the American Press and its congruence with Koppel’s views on the paramount solution for this predicament, it’s important for me to share a bit about my experience in reading this book. If you’re wondering why a vocally Conservative guy like me would be interested in reading a book which, as I stated earlier, addresses the most common cause cited by Liberals for the continuing decline of “traditional” American Journalism, you’ll be puzzled further to learn that the answer is: Because another Conservative friend recommended it. In recommending the book, though, my friend said, “You may not agree with all of the ideas the book offers.” My response was, “So this is an instance where I should be prepared to chew the fruit and spit out the seeds?” My friend’s reply was, “That’s a good way of putting it.” It didn’t take long for me to understand why this book would have significant portions that, for me, would be “fruitless.” In the Preface, the co-Authors (McChesney and Nichols) set aside an entire page to acknowledge Contributors. These include folks such as Phil Donahue and Arianna Huffington; and the dedication in this section says: “… when we are asked to provide an example of the journalism we seek, we respond … with a single name, Bill Moyers.” With that backdrop, let me share with you what I saw as “fruit” and “seeds”, relative to the subject at hand.

First, when it comes to “the heart of good journalism being facts”, McChesney and Nichols seem to be in agreement with Koppel that this should result in “… relatively unbiased accounts of information that their respective news organizations believed the public needed to know.” In The Death and Life of American Journalism, McChesney and Nichols frequently state “facts” about the GWB Administration that they, apparently, “believe the public need to know.” These “facts” include statements such as: “When the United States geared up to invade Iraq in 2002, commercial broadcast news media, with only a few brave exceptions, parroted Bush administration talking points for war that were easily identified as lies.” Since these “facts” are presented as just that, “facts”, without any reference at all for their basis in fact, these were the first “seeds” I spit out.

The area where McChesney and Nichols are in complete disagreement with Koppel is the cause for the ongoing decline of “traditional” American Journalism. Koppel says it’s corporate profits. McChesney and Nichols say it’s just the opposite … the lack of profits. I’m in agreement with McChesney and Nichols on this. The one area where I’m in agreement with Koppel, as well as with McChesney and Nichols, is that the entire “traditional” American news-media system is disintegrating. When it comes to the State-run Press that these Liberals have in mind as the solution for this dilemma, as you might expect, my position diverges dramatically from theirs.

In The Death and Life of American Journalism, McChesney and Nichols attempt to build the case for a State-run Press by stating that doing so is in alignment with the “Founding Principles” of our nation. The first “seed” to spit out here is in noting that McChesney and Nichols first speak of a “Free Press”, then they equate that with their definition of a “Functional Press” and from there forward, they use the terms interchangeably.

Next, McChesney and Nichols state that, “… government in fact created the free/(functional) press … with aggressive and often enlightened policies and subsidies.” They, then, go on to “… argue that Americans need to embrace this tradition as they respond to the present crisis.” A typical line of reasoning the Authors use here is the one about the U.S. Constitution giving the government the responsibility “to establish Post Offices and Post Roads.” According to McChesney and Nichols, when Post Roads were first built there were tolls for their use but publishers were allowed free access. For McChesney and Nichols, that adds up to the government subsidizing the press. When you stop and think about it, giving publishers free access to Post Roads isn’t much different from publishers (along with everyone else) having free access to the Internet today. However, in both the case of the providers of Post Roads, as well as the case of the providers of the Internet, allowing free access to the channel of communication doesn’t mean the provider should be given influence over the communication itself. As you read more about the plan these Liberals have in mind, you’ll see that their idea for a State-run Press is much more far-reaching than just giving the government authority over the Press’ channels of communication.

To more fully understand the Utopian solution our Liberals friends have in mind here, let me give you a synopsis of the four-part proposal presented in The Death and Life of American Journalism:

1) Immediate measures to sustain journalism, each of which transitions to a permanent subsidy if successful;

If nothing else, one has to be concerned for: Whose definition of “journalism” and “successful” would be used here?

One of the specific subsidies proposed would include a “News AmeriCorps”, a New Deal style organization for producing “the great investigative reporters, editors …” The obvious question of concern here is: By whose standards?

The proposal that troubles me the most here is one for “a dramatic expansion of funding high-school newspapers and radio stations.” Is it just me or does this sound like something you’ve read about before under the heading of a Goebbels-led program for Hitler Youth?

2) A plan to convert the collapsing corporate newspaper into what we term a “post-corporate” digital newspaper, with print versions at the very least until there is ubiquitous broadband;

Actually, I see this as “fruit” but it’s already happening as the result of the forces at work in the American economy. In other words, the Laissez-faire approach is working fine and nothing State-run is needed.

3) Converting public and community broadcasting into genuinely world-class civic and democratic media;

Much as with point 1), one has to be concerned for: By who’s standards?

and 4) Spawning a vibrant, well-funded, competitive and innovative news-media sector on the Internet.

Here too, it seems to me that the forces at work in the American economy should take priority. And, what should we do about the time after/beyond the time of the Internet? At the turn of the last century the Laissez-faire approach seemed to work fine in addressing the challenges presented by the decline of the once-thriving Buggy Whip Industry. I’m betting we can count on it to be just as effective in dealing with the transition to whatever we develop beyond the Internet.

Although I firmly believe that the forces at work in the American economy should take priority, McChesney and Nichols do offer one proposal here that I saw as having “fruitful” potential. It’s a proposal for an L3C Model – a Low-profit Limited Liability Corporation – to attract significant investment in projects that seek to serve charitable or community interests. Of course, even with this, one should be concerned for whose definition of “charitable” and “community interests” would be used. However, I’m aware of business owners who are interested in developing “digital newspapers”, as alternatives to declining “traditional” newspapers and this L3C Model could be a worthwhile catalyst for sort of turbo-charging those interests.

At the end of The Death and Life of American Journalism, McChesney and Nichols sum up their proposal by stating that the need is to move from Public Broadcasting to Public Media and they pose the rhetorical question, “Why the state?’ Their answer is, “It is the American way.”

My answer is, “No, it isn’t!” McChesney and Nichols claim that the answer is “the State” and that “It is the American way” is another of their claims that has no basis in fact. Liberals, simply, believe that “the State” is the answer for everything. The continuing decline of “traditional” American Journalism has painful aspects to it for us all. It’s always going to be that way with a truly Free Press. This is well-exemplified in Voltaire’s quote about Free Speech … “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Living that out often requires what can be some pretty painful patience. But, it has consistently proven to be worth the price. I think it’s more realistic to view American Journalism as being in a state of metamorphosis, rather than a state of decline that equates to its death throes. I’m in full agreement with McChesney and Nichols that a Free Press is essential to the survival of our Republic but I say, “No more NPRs, thank you!” Generally, my suggestion for the current metamorphosis of American Journalism is the same as what has proven to be best with the metamorphosis of a caterpillar … when it goes into its cocoon, leave it alone (Laissez-faire)! If you don’t, you’ll really screw up the beautiful butterfly that would emerge, otherwise.


LinkedIn Comment

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Tue, 2010-11-30 05:26.


+-This Comment, left on LinkedIn:

Susan Bender Phelps We' ve always had news supported by advertising. We've always had yellow journalism. Except for a few courageous publishers, editors, and reporters, the news has generally been skewed either by what wasn't told or what was. I'm not interested in government-owned media outlets. If journalism is truly to be the Fourth Estate, it cannot be gov't owned, it can be gov't sponsored. I don't object to the owners of newpapers, radio and television stations etc., making a profit. I object to corporate monopolies that have resulted in fewer organizations generating the news and the monopolization of our airwaves 24/7 with sensationalized news. When everything is sensational - nothing is sensational.

Free Press

Submitted by Susan Bender Phelps (not verified) on Wed, 2010-12-01 13:20.


+-We' ve always had news supported by advertising. We've always had yellow journalism. Except for a few courageous publishers, editors, and reporters, the news has generally been skewed either by what wasn't told or what was. I'm not interested in government-owned media outlets. If journalism is truly to be the Fourth Estate, it cannot be gov't owned, but it can be gov't sponsored. I don't object to the owners of newspapers, radio and television stations etc., making a profit. I object to corporate monopolies that have resulted in fewer organizations generating the news and the monopolization of our airwaves 24/7 with sensationalized news. When everything is sensational - nothing is sensational.