当地方新闻消失时,民主也将不复存在 Chuck Plunkett: When local news dies, so does democracy

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演员: Chuck Plunkett


台词
I've been a journalist for more than 23 years,
我从事记者这个行业 已经超过 23 年了,
at the "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,"
我曾工作过的报社有 《阿肯色民主公报》、
the "Pittsburgh Tribune Review"
《匹兹堡论坛报》,
and most recently, "The Denver Post."
之后我最近在《丹佛邮报》工作。
(Applause)
(掌声)
When I started at "The Denver Post" in 2003,
2003 年我最开始 在《丹佛邮报》工作时,
it was among the country's 10 largest newspapers,
那时它是全国规模最大的 十家报社之一,
with an impressive subscriber base
有着极其可观的订阅人数
and nearly 300 journalists.
和近 300 名记者。
At the time, I was in my 30s.
当年我 30 多岁,
Any ambitious journalist that age
和任何一位差不多年纪 且踌躇满志的记者一样,
aspires to work for one of the big national papers,
有志于能在国家规模的大报社工作——
like "The New York Times" or "The Wall Street Journal."
像是《纽约时报》或是《华尔街日报》。
But I was simply blown away
但我在《丹佛邮报》最开始 工作的几周
by my first few weeks at "The Denver Post,"
就被他们深深震撼到了,
and I thought, "This is going to be my paper.
我当时就想:
I can make a career right here."
这个报社太适合我了, 我定能在这儿成就一番事业。
Well, seven years passed,
七年过去了,
we were sold to a hedge fund,
我们被卖给了一家对冲基金,
Alden Global Capital.
奥尔登全球资本。
Within a few years --
就这几年——
(Laughs)
(笑声)
(Laughter)
(笑声)
Some of you know this story.
在座有些人都知道这个故事。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
Within a few years,
几年间,
buyouts ordered by past and present owners
由于现今和曾经的股权拥有者收购
would reduce the newsroom by nearly half.
导致新闻编辑部的规模近乎减半。
And I understood.
我也能理解。
The rule of thumb used to be that 80 percent of a newspaper's revenue
凭经验估计,一家报社 80% 的收入
came from pricy print ads and classifieds.
都是来源于 昂贵的印刷广告和分类广告。
With emerging giants like Google and Facebook and Craigslist,
随着像是谷歌、脸书和克雷格列表 之类的科技巨头的出现,
those advertizing dollars were evaporating.
那些广告收入就像是蒸发了一样。
The entire industry was undergoing a massive shift from print to digital.
整个行业都面临着 从纸质印刷到电子报刊的巨大转变。
Alden's orders were to be digital first.
奥尔登资本的指令是把电子化放第一位。
Take advantage of blogs, video and social media.
他们充分利用 博客、视频和社交媒体。
They said that one day,
他们说有一天,
the money we made online would make up for the money we lost in print.
我们在线上赚到的利润 会弥补我们在纸刊上的损失。
But that day never came.
但那一天从未到来。
In 2013, we won a Pulitzer Prize
在 2013 年,我们因 报道了奥罗拉剧院枪击案
for covering the Aurora theater shooting.
而获得了普利策奖。
Alden ordered that more journalists be cut.
但那年,奥尔登资本 却依旧辞退了更多的记者。
Again,
一次,
and again,
接一次,
and again,
又一次,
and again.
再一次。
We were forced to say goodbye to talented, hardworking journalists
我们被迫和许多 勤奋又有才华的记者说再见。
we considered not just friends
我们不仅把他们当朋友,
but family.
还把他们当作家人。
Those of us left behind were stretched impossibly thin,
而我们这些剩下的人 由于人数缩减,
covering multiple beats and writing rushed articles.
得去报道多个事件,不断赶稿子, 也为此感到身心俱疲。
Inside a windowless meeting room in March of 2018,
2018 年 3 月, 在一间没有窗的会议室中,
we learned that 30 more would have to go.
我们得知还会有 30 名记者被裁。
This paper that once had 300 journalists
这个报社曾今有 300 名记者,
would now have 70.
如今却只剩下 70 名。
And it didn't make sense.
这一点也说不通。
Here, we'd won multiple Pulitzer Prizes.
后来,我们又多次获得了普利策奖。
We shifted our focus from print to digital,
我们将重心 从纸质刊物转移至了电子期刊,
we hit ambitious targets
我们完成了有野心的目标,
and email from the brass talked up the Post's profit margins,
来自报社上层的邮件 称赞了邮报的利润率,
which industry experts pegged at nearly 20 percent.
业界专家估计该数字在 20% 左右。
So if our company was so successful and so profitable,
那么,既然我们公司这么成功, 利润又如此可观,
why was our newsroom getting so much smaller and smaller?
为什么我们编辑部的人 依旧越来越少呢?
I knew that what was happening in Colorado was happening around the country.
我清楚,在科罗拉多州发生的事情 也正在全国发生着。
Since 2004,
自 2004 年起,
nearly 1,800 newsrooms have closed.
近 1800 家新闻编辑部被关闭。
You've heard of food deserts.
大家都听说过食物荒漠吧。 (指新鲜食品缺乏或其价格高昂的地区)
These are news deserts.
这些就是新闻荒漠。
They are communities, often entire counties,
有些社区,通常甚至是整个郡,
with little to zero news coverage whatsoever.
只有很少, 或是没有任何的新闻报道。
Making matters worse,
更糟的是,
many papers have become ghost ships,
很多报纸就像是幽灵船一样,
pretending to sail with a newsroom
假装自己有个新闻编辑部,
but really just wrapping ads around filler copy.
而实际上只不过 在用广告包裹着无意义的拷贝文章。
More and more newsrooms are being sold off to companies like Alden.
后来,越来越多的新闻编辑部 被卖给了像奥尔登资本一样的公司。
And in that meeting,
那一次会议中,
their intentions couldn't have been clearer.
他们的意图不能更加明显了。
Harvest what you can,
尽可能收获你能从中获利的,
throw away what's left.
扔掉剩下的。
So, working in secret with a team of eight writers,
所以,我和其他 8 个专栏作者
we prepared a special Sunday Perspective section
偷偷地准备了 一个特殊的“周日观点”板块,
on the importance of local news.
内容是地方新闻的重要性。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
The Denver rebellion launched like a missile,
丹佛的这场抗议活动 开始时像是一颗导弹,
and went off like a hydrogen bomb.
却引起了氢弹一样的效果。
[In An Extraordinary Act Of Defiance,
[ 一次非凡的抗议行为,
Denver Post Urges Its Owner To Sell The Paper]
《丹佛邮报》敦促报社拥有者出售报社 ]
['Denver Post' Editorial Board Publicly Calls Out Paper's Owner]
[《丹佛邮报》编辑部公然挑战报刊拥有者 ]
[On The Denver Post, vultures and superheroes]
[《丹佛邮报》,兀鹫与超级英雄]
(Applause and cheers)
(掌声与欢呼声)
Clearly, we weren't alone in our outrage.
很显然,并不只有我们 对现状愤怒不满。
But as expected, I was forced to resign.
不过,不出意外,我被迫辞职了。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
And a year later, nothing's changed.
一年过后,一切如旧。
"The Denver Post" is but a few lone journalists
《丹佛邮报》的记者仍然寥寥无几,
doing their admirable best in this husk of a once-great paper.
在这个曾辉煌过的报社空壳下 尽己所能地工作。
Now, at least some of you are thinking to yourself,
现在,你们中有些人肯定在想
"So what?"
“那又怎样?”
Right?
对不对?
So what?
那又怎样?
Let this dying industry die.
让这个垂死的行业消失吧。
And I kind of get that.
我也理解你们为什么会这么想。
For one thing, the local news has been in decline for so long
一方面,地方新闻业 在走下坡路也不是一天两天了,
that many of you may not even remember
你们很多人甚至都不记得
what it's like to have a great local paper.
有一个高质量的地方报刊 是什么样的了。
Maybe you've seen "Spotlight" or "The Paper,"
你可能听说过 《聚焦》或是《媒体先锋》,
movies that romanticize what journalism used to be.
这两部浪漫化旧时新闻业的电影。
Well, I'm not here to be romantic or nostalgic.
但我不是来这儿 耽于浪漫或是怀旧的。
I'm here to warn you that when local news dies,
我来这儿是为了警告大家:
so does our democracy.
当地方新闻消失之时, 我们的民主也将不复存在。
And that should concern you --
这是你们应该担心的情况——
(Applause and cheers)
(掌声与欢呼声)
And that should concern you,
不管你是否订阅报纸,
regardless of whether you subscribe.
你们都应对此感到担忧。
Here's why.
原因如下。
A democracy is a government of the people.
民主是人民的政府。
People are the ultimate source of power and authority.
人民是权力的最基本的来源。
A great local newsroom acts like a mirror.
一个好的地方新闻编剧部 充当着镜子的角色。
Its journalists see the community and reflect it back.
记者观察并反映社区中的情况。
That information is empowering.
这样的信息能赋予人力量。
Seeing, knowing, understanding --
看见、了解、理解——
this is how good decisions are made.
这样才能制定出好的决策。
When you have a great local paper,
如果你有一个很棒的本地报社,
you have journalists sitting in on every city council meeting.
你就会有记者坐在那里,
Listening in to state house and senate hearings.
参与每一个市议会、 州议会和参议院听证会。
Those important but, let's face it,
那些重要的,但说实话
sometimes devastatingly boring committee hearings.
有时也是无聊到令人绝望的 委员会听证会。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
Journalists discover the flaws and ill-conceived measures
记者们能发现 不完善且考虑不周的举措,
and those bills fail, because the public was well-informed.
之后当民众掌握了足够多的信息, 那些议案就不会被通过。
Readers go to the polls
报刊读者到投票站去选举时
and they know the pros and cons behind every ballot measure,
就已经了解 每张选票背后的利弊了,
because journalists did the heavy lifting for them.
因为记者们已经替他们 整理好了这些繁琐的信息。
Even better,
更好的是,
researchers have found that reading a local paper
研究者们发现阅读本地报纸
can mobilize 13 percent of nonvoters to vote.
能鼓动 13% 不参加选举投票的人去投票。
Thirteen percent. 13% 。
(Applause)
(掌声)
That's the number that can change the outcome of many elections.
这可是一个能改变 很多选举结果的数字。
When you don't have a great local paper,
如果你没有一个好的地方报社,
voters are left stranded at the polls,
投票人就会在投票站前面不知所措,
confused,
满脸困惑,
trying to make their best guess based on a paragraph of legalese.
只能根据大段的法律术语去 做出他们最佳的猜测。
Flawed measures pass.
有缺陷的法案就是这样被通过的。
Well-conceived but highly technical measures fail.
而考虑周全但措辞过于专业的法案 却没能被通过。
Voters become more partisan.
投票人们更容易 盲目且坚定地支持某些政客或观点。
Recently in Colorado, our governor's race
最近在科罗拉多州, 我们州长一职的竞选,
had more candidates than anyone can remember.
参与竞选者的数量是史无前例的。
In years past,
在往些年,
journalists would have thoroughly vetted,
记者们会通过地方报纸
scrutinized, fact-checked, profiled, debated
对每位竞选人进行仔细审查、
every contender in the local paper.
核查事实信息、 概述竞选人情况,并进行辩论。
"The Denver Post" did its best.
《丹佛邮报》 就在竭尽所能做到最好。
But in the place of past levels of rigorous reporting and research,
但没有了以往的那种细致报道与调查,
the public is increasingly left to interpret
公众逐渐被迫去尝试自己解读那些
dog-and-pony-show stump speeches and clever campaign ads
外表炫丽、内容空洞的政治演讲
for themselves.
和智能的竞选广告。
With advertizing costing what it does,
而政治宣传的高昂费用
electability comes down to money.
导致了竞选最终 只取决于竞选人的财力大小。
So by the end of the primaries,
于是到了初选结束时,
the only candidates left standing were the wealthiest
台上剩下的都是那些
and best-funded.
最富有且拥有最大资金支持的竞选者。
Many experienced and praise-worthy candidates
很多富有经验、值得称赞的竞选者
never got oxygen,
却失去了继续角逐的机会,
because when local news declines,
因为当地方新闻业走向衰退时,
even big-ticket races become pay-to-play.
就算是这样的竞选活动也变成了 谁有钱,谁入场。
Is it any surprise that our new governor
这些事实会让你们感到意外吗?
was the candidate worth more than 300 million dollars?
比如,我们的新州长身价 超过 3 亿美元?
Or that billionaire businessmen like Donald Trump and Howard Schultz
或是亿万富翁唐纳德 · 特朗普(Donald Trump) 和霍华德 · 舒尔茨(Howard Schultz)
can seize the political stage?
能占据政治舞台?
I don't think this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind
我并不认为我们的国父
when they talked about free and fair elections.
会认为这些是自由公平的选举。
(Applause and cheers)
(掌声与欢呼)
Now this is exactly why we can't just rely on the big national papers,
这就是我们不能仅仅依靠 大型国家级报刊的原因,
like "The Journal" and "The Times" and "The Post."
像是《华尔街日报》 《纽约时报》和《华盛顿邮报》。
Those are tremendous papers,
那些都是规模极大的报纸,
and we need them now, my God, more than ever before.
我的天啊, 我们现在比以往更需要它们。
But there is no world in which they could cover
但它们绝没有可能
every election in every county in the country.
涵盖国家内每个郡县的选举新闻。
No.
不可能。
The newsroom best equipped to cover your local election
最具备条件来报道当地选举情况的
ought to be your local newsroom.
应该是地方性的新闻编辑部。
If you're lucky and still have one.
如果你足够幸运 还有这么一个报社的话。
When election day is over,
当选举结束后,
a great local paper is still there, waiting like a watchdog.
一个好的地方报刊还依然在那儿 充当着监察者的角色。
When they're being watched,
当有人在监察时,
politicians have less power,
政客的权利就被削弱了,
police do right by the public,
警察会公正的对待大众,
even massive corporations are on their best behavior.
哪怕是大型企业 也能遵纪守法,做到最好。
This mechanism that for generations has helped inform and guide us
这种曾给我们提供信息 并指引了我们数代人的机制
no longer functions the way it used to.
现如今不再像以前那样发挥作用了。
You know intimately what the poisoned national discourse feels like,
你们比谁都清楚 有害政治演讲的坏处,
what a mockery of reasoned debate it has become.
真是对理性辩论的讽刺啊。
This is what happens when local newsrooms shutter
这就是当地方新闻走向衰微,
and communities across the country go unwatched and unseen.
举国社区未受到监察时 会发生的情况。
Until we recognize that the decline of local news
这种情况不会好转,
has serious consequences for our society,
除非我们能意识到地方新闻业的衰微
this situation will not improve.
及其对我们的社会具有非常严重的影响。
A properly staffed local newsroom isn't profitable,
一个人员齐备的 地方新闻编辑部是无法盈利的,
and in this age of Google and Facebook,
尤其在这个谷歌与脸书的时代,
it's not going to be.
永远不可能。
If newspapers are vital to our democracy,
但若是新闻业 对我们的民主如此重要,
then we should fund them like they're vital to our democracy.
那么我们就应该提供 与之重要性相称的资金。
(Applause and cheers)
(掌声与欢呼)
We cannot stand by and let our watchdogs be put down.
我们不能冷眼旁观, 看着我们的监察者被打倒。
We can't let more communities vanish into darkness.
我们不能让更多的社区 消失在黑暗中。
It is time to debate a public funding option
是时候在我们的第四权消失之前,
before the fourth estate disappears,
在我们伟大的民主实验消失之前,
and with it, our grand democratic experiment.
讨论出一个公共筹资的方案了。
We need much more than a rebellion.
我们所需的不止是一次抗议。
It is time for a revolution.
我们需要一场革命。
Thank you.
谢谢大家。
(Applause and cheers)
(掌声与欢呼)