New York, New York - Main stream media journalistic outlets and practitioners, commonly known as the fourth estate, have placed an advertisement on the internet stating they are for sale, at auction, to the highest bidder. Recently the Wall Street Journal
was purchased by media magnate Rupert Murdoch
, and it is rumored he is eying The New York Times
as well. Television, radio, magazines and newspapers are now controlled by a handful of major corporations.
"Let's face it," said John Tucker
of the American Association of Newspaper Editors, "main stream media is dead. We didn't find too much of sentimental value among their possessions so we might as well hold an estate sale and get a few bucks."
Sotheby's, the prominent auction house, has prepared a catalog of the estate sale offerings. The auction is tentatively scheduled for the holiday shopping season later this year. Marcia Funebre
, who works as an independent media appraiser, gave Assimilated Press
her opinion of the items and prices in the Sotheby catalog.
Investigative reporting is listed in the catalog with a starting bid of $50,000. "Investigative reporting has a lot of nostalgia for the baby boomers who remember The Pentagon Papers and Watergate so Sotheby's is confident it will generate excitement and move quickly, and I agree," said Ms. Funebre.
Fact-checking is listed in the catalog at a starting bid of $5,000. "Fact-checking isn't very sexy," explained Ms. Funebre. "You're supposed to do it all the time, kind of like you're supposed to check your rear view mirror before backing out of the driveway, but let's get real; every single time without fail? It's just too inconvenient and boring."
Hard-hitting questions and issue-focused interviews are grouped together as one unit in the catalog. "I'm not sure about these," said Ms. Funebre, "they could be a modest sale or there could be some interest, so a starting bid of $20,000 seems reasonable to me."
Objectivity and follow-up stories are not expected to perform as well as some other items. "There's a certain blandness to objectivity, and follow-up stories require an attention span greater than that of a goldfish, something most people now seem to lack. Sotheby's has each of these items listed at $1,000 but I think that's a little optimistic."
Domestic political reportage, geopolitical reportage, legislative analysis, economic analysis, and in-depth science and technology reportage are the lowest listed items in the catalog, with no stated starting bids. "These are difficult, often unattractive and unsettling topics that demand skepticism and thorough background knowledge from the reporter, while the media consumer has to be able to independently assess the information," said Ms. Funebre. "Nobody wants to work that hard for such disturbing, insignificant information when big and important news, like the latest missing attractive young white woman or a celebrity on trial for intoxication, child molestation or murder can be so effortlessly entertaining, and has so much more impact on your life."
Journalistic integrity is listed in the catalog with a starting bid of $500,000. "This is the showpiece of the collection," said Ms. Funebre "It will probably go into the millions with frenzied competitive bidding. I wish I could afford it! There are only a couple handfuls of people who still have journalistic integrity, for example Bill Moyers, Nina Totenberg, Jim Lehrer and Helen Thomas. It's a dying art. Journalistic integrity is very, very rare and this may be a once in a lifetime chance to get it before it becomes extinct in this country."Written for Assimilated Press by roving reporter pinko