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Mike Tasos: Journalists need to gain the trust of readers again
Mike Tasos

Thanks FCN sports columnist Denton Ashway for your thoughtful piece on Dan Jenkins. 

Calling Dan Jenkins “funny,” is like saying Shakespeare’s writing will be around for awhile, Michael Jordan was a pretty good basketball player, Jack Nicklaus knew how to putt.

Jenkins, who died recently, wrote books, Sports Illustrated classics and got me hooked on witty writing. 

In college, I’ll never forget reading Semi Tough and laughing until I cried. You won’t find the names of Billy Clyde Puckett, brothers Orangelo and Lemogelo, Shake Tiller in any literary reviews. 

The Atlantic can handle that.

Unfortunately, Hollywood transformed the book into a mish-mash of praise for the consciousness movement. Of course, it revolved around California kooks.

I used to watch him at the Masters. I wanted to know what he was seeing and how he could be so smart and funny.

I was wondering if the new subspecies, the millenials, ever read books? I was talking with a couple former high school baseball players, all of 22, who seemed to relish pointing out a whole lot of negative.

The signs are too small, the team isn’t any good, and we were better. 

“What would you do to improve things on your old stomping grounds?” was my question.

Out spewed all they would do. It was a Christmas-like, comprehensive list. Probably like the one they still hand to Mom and Dad a little before Thanksgiving.

These guys had lots of suggestions, so I asked: “How will you pay for all that?”

That’s a problem. I wanted to let them know that 22 will become 42 in the blink of an eye. 

If you are reading this, ink on your hands, and becoming more informed, incensed or even smarter, it’s a safe bet you’re not a baby boomer.

It seems like newspapers are having a tough time getting those over 40 to take a peek. Hotels used to hand them out to guests. What am I supposed to do while eating breakfast?

A conversation with Forsyth County News General Manager Norman Baggs, proved enlightening. 

He knows what many folks employed as newspaper writers have known for awhile: Fewer advertisers means shrinking revenues. 

We talked about the cost of buying a daily paper. We settled on a quarter used to be the going rate. And with the inexpensive subscription rates and shrinking revenues, who’s going to pay for journalism?

It’s pretty evident what happens when national media types forget to focus on the truth and load up on sensationalism. What happened this week is a sad reminder we need real news and real journalism.

I was fortunate to be a student of the late Dr. Roger Tatarian. As the former head man at United Press International (one of two main news services, Associated Press the other), anything you submitted would look like it had been in a slasher film. Red ink permeated every page.

He taught how to write, the importance of being fair.

This past year, at Fresno State, the program bearing his name was titled: “Putting Fake News in the Rear View Mirror: How the Media Can Win Back the Trust of all Americans.” 

I still remember Woodward and Bernstein blowing the lid off Watergate. What they were writing turned them into pariahs. 

The duo was vilified, scorned and hated by many Americans who voted for President Richard Nixon. 

All through the stories that ultimately brought down the Nixon presidency, in retrospect, two things are undeniable: They told the truth. And just as important, they were right.

We are in need of more journalists who can tell a story as it happened. Dr. Tatarian would want it that way.

So here’s my tribute to my late teacher: I’ll foot the bill for two six-month subscriptions for a millenial. Email me and we’ll make arrangements. First two emails win.

It’s not spending, it’s investing. I started reading the local paper when I was 5 years old. It sparked an interest in learning what was going on.

I’m hoping my offer flips a switch.

Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. Remember Georgia bull rider Sean Willingham, who appeared in a recent column? Last weekend he got brutalized in Kansas City and suffered a broken leg. Surgery was last Monday, and he is on the mend (hopefully). Comments can be sent to He is also on Facebook.