A disclaimer for this post – it is not meant to be political and no, I don’t plan to make this blog one that focuses on such issues in the future. This is just a “one-post” you might say.
‘Do I hate the term “fake news” as a phrase espoused time and time again by our president? Yes, I do. Do I hate hearing his supporters scream that the media is the enemy of the people? Since I have family in the media and I was once a member of it, yes I do. But, let’s be honest: almost all national media – yes, even FOX News and CNN – are FAKE NEWS now. There is no “real news” anymore. This is something all Americans should understand.
When I was in college earning a journalism degree some *cough* 20 years ago *cough* (didn’t bother to count how long ago because I don’t have enough chocolate to console me) we were taught one important thing: keep your opinion out of the hard news stories. Writing an opinion piece or an editorial? Fine, express an opinion. Writing a straight news story? Then write a straight news story. We were to present what we saw, the facts from both sides, and then – that’s it. Yep. That’s it. We reported this person said this and that person said that and then guess what – we left it to the public to decide what all of that meant.
That doesn’t happen anymore. The lines between objectivity and opinion are so blurred they run together like the characters in a chalk painting during a rainstorm.
Every cable news network and mainstream newspaper has their own agenda and they are pushing it on you. Look around – the conservatives watch this channel and read these papers and the liberals watch that channel and read those papers. It’s an echo chamber.
Don’t believe me?
Watch an actual, live, FULL press conference and see what is actually said and then turn to Fox News or CNN and watch them clip what was said into sound bites to fit each of their agendas. It’s real and it’s happening and yes, I’ve watched it happen in print media for years. Do I mean journalists are purposely trying to mislead you? No, not always. Sometimes it is an honest mistake while they are trying to fit all the news about an event in a time frame or in a certain amount of space. Details get dropped to fit the time or space and therefore meanings get changed. It happens and it isn’t always done in a nefarious way.
But by and large, the news isn’t about informing anymore – it is about selling, or as my husband said about the national news “It’s not about informing the public. It’s about inflaming the public.” He’s in local, smalltown news, and that’s a different ballgame, especially where he works now. The goal really is to inform the public because smalltown newspapers haven’t completely lost the plot yet when it comes to journalism.
This isn’t new, in some ways, of course. The media has always used its power for bad, as well as good. The problem is that people used to be a little discerning about where they got their news but now they just seem to follow the news outlet that espouses their agenda like sheep. People, we can not simply trust the media anymore. You have to do your own research. In the same way we have to be our own advocate for our health, we need to be our own advocate when it comes to our news.
What’s my suggestion then? First, stop watching sound bites and start watching the actual events the reporters are reporting from.
If you can find the full press conferences, the full hearings, the full statements on a situation by whomever you want to hear the full story about then do that. You can find links to full press conferences on Youtube from a variety of sources. I am not endorsing FoxNews because they are biased as well, but they do post the full press conferences on their channel more often than CNN and MSNBC. CBS is another one who posts full feeds of hearings and press conferences after they’ve run live. I challenge you to listen fully to people you do not even agree with or support. I do. I may not always agree with a certain political party or a certain politician but I listen to the full hearings, the live press conferences, and the live statements as much as possible. If I miss them, like I said, there is usually an archive of it somewhere on Youtube.
I’ve been finding a way to watch the full versions of events and I’ve been amazed at the information being left out by media outlets. I’ve been amazed at how we are able to demonize the other side based on sound bites that reporters and producers chose verses demonizing them on what we heard with our own ears. I mean, let’s demonize them if we must, but not simply because of what we saw on CNN or FOX (or the other outlets – whoever they are.).
I suggested this to someone not long ago and instead of listening and accepting that I was trying to remain neutral, the other person launched into a tirade about the party I’m a part of. I hadn’t attacked their party – I’d said both parties were making me angry, but apparently being neutral in your opinion is unacceptable today. You either want to make Trump a saint or you want to cut his head off in the square. You either want to vilify all Democrats or Republicans or you want to take them with you on your boat on the lake and kick back a few beers. There is no in between. It’s clear that you can’t be in the middle anymore. You can’t dislike both parties or their tactics. Pick a side or face the wrath of both, is what I’m learning. Or do what I’ve chosen to do for the future (after several run-ins) and just never talk to anyone about politics and keep your opinions close to the vest.
If you don’t have time to watch the press conferences, or simply don’t want to, at least look at how each channel covers the stories and then compare. Somewhere in the middle is the truth.
Bottom line? Ditch the major news media outlets. Dare I say it, even though our family is supported by the media? Yes, I will say it – ditch the major newspapers too. The national newspapers that is.
Keep your local ones. They probably have some really good stories about important local issues, if they are a good newspaper, or at least some really good feature stories about interesting, real people in your neighborhood.
Look at your news like you look at your food – buy local – and we all be a bit better off.