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Is the press distorting our reality?

January 18, 2018

Well, the President released his Fake News Award list yesterday, as promised.

Only it wasn’t just a list, it was a recap of the top 10 outright wrong stories, stories that even the originating media outlets often had to retract or “correct,” albeit sometimes on page 20.

For some reason, the aptly named Senator Flake and his audience of two seems to think that constitutes an attack on the First Amendment.

The press has a perfect right to report something negative about the President or anyone else, if it is true. Maybe 90-some percent negative is more than a bit unbalanced, but if the stories are grounded in fact, not merely opinion, then that’s the way the ball bounces.

It does not have a right to misrepresent or invent a story simply because the outlets or their corporate owners don’t like President Trump, or white men or a particular political party.

Does anyone seriously believe that the left would have been so sanguine, much less approving, of  90% negative coverage of former President Obama?

It’s important to note that not every single news program or article is scripted to address the political, but enough are to taint the public’s view of the profession in general.

We need to forget about who the stories are about, and focus on what we think of as the proper the role of the news media, which is to impart or report useful information in an unbiased framework.

Sometimes the stories are so colored by the reporter’s personal dislike or the editorial bias of the outlet that they aren’t even presented as fact. They’re just good old fashioned gossip.

Today, a journalism degree doesn’t invoke the same respect it did in the past.

Reporting, once called chronicling, is often considered to be one of the earliest professions, appearing at about the same time we developed language, alongside the usually accepted truly oldest profession, prostitution.

For millennia each generation has relied on the chronicles of the past, first in verbal and then in written form,  to inform them of their historical  past, the better to guide the future.  They relied on the accuracy of the chronicler.

In short, accuracy mattered.  If a chronicle said that water could be found by going to a certain river during the dry season, people’s lives depended on that to be true.

A hundred years from now, what people know about us today will depend on the record we leave behind.

In the recent past the world’s two oldest professions appear to have become too often conflated, and apparently no one cares.

That doesn’t say a lot for accurately preserving our history.

From → op-ed

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