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Soapboxer: A town without muckrakers

Who will afflict the powerful when the powerful own the media?

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Second, and more importantly, Orlando is already perilously close to being a town without muckrakers, a town without the kind of aggressive journalism that sinks time and money and energy into investigations that hold the powerful in check (and sometimes piss off advertisers). Don’t get me wrong: The Sentinel has some excellent reporters. But few, I think, would argue that the paper isn’t a shell of its former self, all but stripped and sold for parts by the Zell regime.

This is true across the local media spectrum. TV news is almost singularly focused on cheap crime, weather and sports reporting. The Orlando Business Journal and Orlando Magazine have shown zero interest in shaking things up. Even the Weekly, if we’re being honest, doesn’t dedicate nearly the investigative resources it once did.

The Sentinel is, and will continue to be, the most important newsgathering operation in town. The more it gets hollowed out, the less its reporters will be able to carry out Finley Peter Dunne’s famous missive to “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable” – to take on formidable business interests or the politicians who cower before them.

With the comfortable calling the shots, there’d be little affliction at all.

Follow Jeffrey C. Billman on Twitter: @jeffreybillman

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