SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION IN THE NEWS

Let’s face it. We’re all in a hurry. Life is busy. We rush through our days doing our best to get the gist of what’s going on in the world.  We look at the newspaper over morning coffee glancing at headlines, skimming a paragraph or two. We access news on our cell phones, computers and ipads on a 24/7 cycle. If we’re on a mobile device and on the run, we want the facts clean and fast.

Never have we had more access to news and at the same time been so uninformed. We rarely get to the end of an article. A glimpse at a headline doesn’t cut it nor do the tickers running on CNN and other cable news networks. We already know how those juicy sound bites take things out of context. They are designed to catch your eye, raise your blood pressure, or shake your head in disbelief. The same is true for pithy headlines.

The storyboard of a news story should contain the classic objective who, what, when, how, and why.  But it rarely does.  Lines are blurred between reporting and analyzing news. There are also corporate entities that own news organizations and have their own agendas. There are too few reporters assigned to cover too many stories who don’t have time for rigorous fact checking. There are careers to be made and a herd mentality to get there first.  When we get a visual image in our minds about reporters, they are in a crowd stepping over each other, shouting questions.

I don’t know what the answer is.  Coverage is skewed.  Where do you go to really find out how the Occupy Wall Street movement is gaining momentum throughout the country?  Coverage seems to me to be more about police using Tasers and the parks needing clean up.  Or discouraging comments about the lack of organization.  Sometimes just being there is enough.  What is it that the demonstrators want? Ask them and then tell us their stories. Go back to Journalism 101 and do it the right way. It’s easier to spend time broadcasting about some candidate who equates being Mormon with being in a religious cult. Instead, remind everyone that separation of church and state is fundamental to our founding. Let it go at that instead of broadcasting ad nauseum cheap publicity grabs.

I used to be a news junkie but now I’m sure I know less than ever. Like most of us, I need to use my time judiciously. I want a news story to be factual from the get go. Just the facts, Mister.  I don’t want to hear out of context remarks that are played in rerun all day.  It’s good theater but it doesn’t make for an informed public.

What is a good news source? How close a match are the headlines to the facts of an article?  How different is the context of the story from the rolling ticker at the bottom of the screen?

I don’t want to feel this sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach bombarded by bad information or ‘beside the point’ vitriolic politics. Where should I go for my news?  I’m open to suggestions.

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2 thoughts on “SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION IN THE NEWS

  1. I like what you wrote. When we were kids growing up in Albany during the 60’s I never thought I would eventually become politically apathetic. But over time it did happen. When I realized it, I tried listening to talk radio while I worked in the shop, but I got tired of listening to the opinions of people who were even less informed than I was. I could only make out about every third word over the noise of the machines anyway. Now I listen to NPR in the office, and classic rock and roll, cranked up as loud as I can make it, in the shop. Led Zeppelin and the Doors haven’t helped me become more informed, but NPR, and discussing what I learn with my kids, has. The music reminds me of that time in my life when everything seemed possible.

    • Now is the worst time to be apathetic politically but I hear you. It’s all so discouraging. Writing this book brought me back home to those days. It’s not that everything was so great– it was definitely a mixed bag, but we were moving in the right direction. Now, it’s like…… who are these people and what’s happened to their brains?

      It’s so good to hear from you. I promise I’ll be better checking my comments!

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