Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Is The Right Wrong?

The right wing has often abused the news media for not covering all sides of an issue. Recent articles have caused major problems in the mainstream media machine with the less then perfect reporting of the facts. Or should I say the lack thereof?

Is this poor reporting due to an agenda by any single group trying to force their opinions on the rest of us, or does it all boil down to just plain old shabby reporting?

People long for the time when reporters took pride in getting the story right the first time. The integrity of a reporter would be so strong that they would go to jail rather then reveal their source for a hard-hitting article. What is happening to the journalist these days? Is this difficulty of penning a great news column actually a conspiracy piece to further an agenda, or merely having a tough time keeping up with the Jones’s?

I think reporters are still trying their best; the real hurdles come from technology and its rapid growth throughout our culture.

Back “in the old days” when most people heard or read the news they did not have a choice but to either believe it, or try to come up with some reason of their own not to follow what the story was saying.

As technology advanced we no longer read one newspaper, or watch one news channel. Now we watch the news from around the world, and can get equally globe-spanning newspapers. Now when a story breaks, the online community runs to their computers and instantly millions of words hit the Internet picking apart any news article and dissecting it like a pimple-faced trekker who just watched Star Trek 27 for the one hundredth time and discovers that Mr. Spock had on the wrong medallion in scene 63 because it has nothing to do with the kolinar ritual from Star Trek The Motion Picture.

What crazy nut job would want to report the news these days? I hated to have my English teacher bleed all over my papers with her vicious red pen, and that was just trying to please one deranged woman. After all, it was obvious to me that not one of my writings was poorly written!

Add to all of this the pressure from writing article after article that’s cutting edge, in the moment, full of excitement, finger pointing and intrigue. In a world that asks a Pulitzer Prize winner, “Yes, that’s nice, but what have you done for us today?” you quickly begin to realize why many reporters have their facts all mangled and are often caught just making crap up.

The competition must be fierce, and to expect someone to go out daily and knock an article out of the conspiracy ball park is unrealistic, but these are what the top news agencies demand day in and day out from their reporters.

Am I making excuses for dishonest reporters and high-pressure news organizations? Perhaps, but only to maybe shed some light on why our news tends to be as reliable as a fortune cookie message. Just as in most of my life I do not blindly follow anything or anyone, I don’t receive my news from only one source and call it gospel. I watch Fox news, CNN, read blogs and other online sources, listen to discussion television shows and talk radio. Heck, if he’s on a roll I also enjoy the great Dennis Miller from time to time. After all, what’s wrong with a little sarcasm thrown into the mix to take the edge off?

My point here is that I gather my information from a large number of resources, and then usually can formulate my own opinion from there. It’s amusing to listen to friends or family who receive their current events input from one biased source, and then attempt to discuss what they know with others.

Arrogant? I’m sure I have been called that, but I like to think it is more like a strong and informed position in most cases. Even with my pig-headed views I still have been known to change sides on an issue when more facts seem to point out a different course. This only means that I continue to learn and accept that my own views may be incorrect as well. After all, we are all imperfect humans. Yes, even you.

The other day I heard a friend tell me that a family argument exploded when a family member was making comments such as, “If Kerry were elected our troops would be home by now.”

Do any of you reading this actually believe that statement? Even most Kerry supporters know that regardless of what John Kerry thought about our going to war in Iraq, he would have had no choice but to ride out the current situation which would mean to support the elections and continue to provide military support to the Iraqi people as long as they needed our help.

John Kerry himself admitted this during his campaign. Anyone who thinks otherwise is one of those narrow-minded scary types who don’t even know enough about their own views to make an intelligent argument. You see these people portrayed on sitcoms when someone turns to them and says, “Stop trying to help me.” In case you missed the subtlety here, the idiot was trying to help out in an argument but had the facts so wrong he had no clue what he was even saying. This simply makes the other persons point seem that much worse.

So watch the news, read the news, explore the Internet, and make up your own mind about what you are hearing. Don’t hang on every word from Dan Rather or Rush Limbaugh. When the local news jockey interrupts “Alias” with a news flash commercial about the disaster that is infecting your home city take it with a grain of salt. Chances are it’s just the action news team trying to get you to stay up and watch their show only to discover that the disaster is a new pothole on 2nd street!

1 comment:

  1. Some of the Potholes here do deserve to be considered disasters!

    On a more serious note, I agree with you on the need to get news from a variety of sources, although it is disturbingly difficult at times.

    I also don't think that most reporters are intentionally biased or that their is a vast conspiracy trying to give the news a certain slant. My own opinion is that journalists are journalists because they want to 'speak truth to power' and cause changes in the way things are done. This means of course most journalists are left of center.

    It is always difficult to spot one's own bias's. It can become increasingly difficult when you are surrounded by others who share the same bias's. News organizations would be smart to find some way, at least at an editorial level, to ensure that they have a variety of perspecitives to help identify bias and reduce it.