There Is Hope After All

Andrea SeaBrook
Andrea SeaBrook

The noise has been deafening. The sport of the post presidential and vice-presidential debate punditry has grown from a torrent to a deluge, moving from on-air to online and virtually everywhere else. After the now-famed Romney Resurrection, Saturday Night Live dared to hilariously get inside the heads of the candidates. Obama, it posited, was distracted thinking about how he had forgotten to buy the first lady an anniversary present. It would have been even funnier had it not been what we in the media all seem to have been trying to do since Obama-Romney I got us all nattering.

The coverage seems to be only reinforcing this weird epoch of journalism today which wobbles between punditry and a “just the facts” dirge.

Even as journalists work harder than ever, nobody seems very happy. Especially not the audience if a Gallup poll – brought to our attention, of course, on Facebook – is to be believed. It says an all-time high, 60 percent of us, now “have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.” Perhaps worse than that, in recent conversations with graduate and undergraduate journalism students, even these driven youth who represent the future of this industry feel that, at best, today’s media is so-so. These are people want to do this for a living. One more tasty treat of negativity – the University of Colorado closed its famed journalism school last year partly citing loss of relevance and recently Emory University in Atlanta announced a similar move with its growing journalism department. Others are sure to follow.

ATM comes not to bury Caesar, but to give a call to action to save him.

With the permission of our valiant publisher, I am taking a column away from observing or commenting or critiquing to urge. To misquote a frequent television ad, “It’s my journalism, and I want it now!”

I urge anybody interested in being a part of creating that future of journalism to support the Kickstarter campaign for DecodeDC – the new podcast devoted to reporting on Congress in a way nobody else is.

Yes, we have venerable publications like the Hill, Roll Call, the entire Congressional Quarterly family, and even the future-is-now Politico devoted to the daily throes of our legislative and executive bodies – but few have proven able to cover Congress like former NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook. For anybody wondering why her voice has disappeared from NPR airwaves, Seabrook decided this summer that she couldn’t continue to cover Congress as a daily mud fight any longer. “It just didn’t seem to be doing anybody any good any more. What was the point? I was becoming as much part of the problem.” So instead Seabrook decided she, and we, deserved something different.

Seabrook left to start an independent podcast called DecodeDC at DecodeDC.com. In her first two episodes, she truly humanizes Congress and simultaneously eviscerates all that should be eviscerated. They are worth listening to. They are good. Very good.

And worth supporting.

Seabrook is turning to people who want great journalism to support her and provide the seed money needed to fully fund a year of DecodeDC, and she has turned to the online money-raiser – Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is a wonderful way for ordinary people can play venture capitalist, venturing to put their money where their mouths are. If you are one of those who loves, is interested in learning something more than the latest mud slinging, and wishes journalism reached for something better than it seems so often to be today, take a listen and then support. Seabrook has until 6 p.m. Oct. 19 to raise the money to fund 28 more episodes.

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Sat, 1 Nov 2014 05:01:27 -0400

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