Walter Cronkite where are you?
As it becomes increasingly difficult to filter between false and real news, we writers and journalists must start looking ourselves in the mirror every day to stay honest and objective in what we pass on to the general public.
While we are under no illusions that journalists have always been somewhat subjugated to bias per their political, religious, or cultural backgrounds…bias and personal advocacy have never driven journalism at the level it does today.
With the advent of the internet and social media, there are so many channels available to any writer or blogger to publicize their perspectives that today it takes a lot more time to verify and examine truth in journalism…and there is very little objectivism in it anymore.
These days of hyper-partisanship between left-right, conservative-liberal, and extreme political parties…all doing battle to capture the vacuum of uneducated minds in our world…has most of us in a very defensive position regarding our own truths and values. Extremism, in general, is pushing many of us into corners demanding that we identify with one extreme or the other. Those of us who deem ourselves “centrists” or “independents”, which we believe is the silent majority of the world, are continually forced from our acquiescence to the nasty, lie-riddled dialogue that is our daily media. It is now next to impossible to stay neutral where these labels are concerned.
Adding to the challenge of deciding what stands to take on political or social issues…we now have the added blurring of lines between race, sexual orientation, and religions…including the growing wave of “secularism”. Journalism used to be all about the subject matter being reported. Reporting used to be about the facts or describing events based on research, background knowledge, and what the “authorities” or “scientists” had to say on a matter. That has changed into complete spin and personalization of the reporting depending on who is reporting and from what news organization. “Fair and balanced” reporting has become extinct in favor of personalized hype and often false assumptions surrounding a journalist’s reporting. We find it humorous to have people like Bill O’Reilly featuring his “no spin” zone where all he does is spin an ultra conservative, sensationalist responses to the daily news. On the other side of that coin, you have liberal “journalists” like Rachel Maddow, “graceless” Nancy Grace, and Scientologist Greta Van Susteren who nightly use their media channels to spew out limitless venom against capitalism and even constitutional democracy itself. They work together to disparage every conservative or religious person within the American framework of our society while worshipping every secular, contrary, BIG government idea that comes along and pleases their masters.
There are very few well-known “voices of reason” with fair and factual perspectives. “Truth” has become totally subjective…and most of our media stars have become “machiavellian” (“characterized by a duplicitous interpersonal style, a cynical disregard for morality and a focus on self-interest and personal gain”) in their pursuits of painting the news their way. The news is no longer “news”, but replaced with long editorial monologs full of half-truths or blatant lies. Journalist’s questions are often longer than the answer and pre-planned in such a way as to make their question a political or personal statement. In order to maintain perspective, most of us “in the middle” must now sift through 80 lines of garbage to reach 1 or 2 lines of basic truth. Our choices along these lines tend to personify who we are as individuals as it becomes more and more impossible to “stay on the fence” regarding current affairs.
The smoke and mirrors of modern journalism need to be re-evaluated. True journalists need to take on the responsibility of looking at all sides of major issues before accepting or “re-broadcasting” the views of “sources” or our editorial departments.
It used to be that Americans hardly every questioned the reporting of American news personalities such as Cronkite, Roger Mudd, David Brinkley and many others from the early era of television news . While they all at times reported things that weren’t necessarily “so”…they still tended to say “we” at CBS, or NBC, or ABC think…not “I” think. I also remember many times in those days where these announcers came on air to “correct” stories where the facts did not line up to what had been reported. Today you will not see reporters apologizing for “getting it wrong”. Slander is no longer slander…and “presumed innocence until proven guilty” is just a nice concept.
In reaction to all this, some of us are simply tuning out “extremists” on all sides. The only reason we listen to extremists now is to understand what is being said and why so many people are blindly taking to the street in protests against issues they have no real understanding of. Big money media is paying simpleton minds to riot and demonstrate in the streets of the world in support of their big media politics. Advertisers are no longer advertising based on moral and truthful programs…but simply placing their money on “ratings”. There is no integrity in advertising, and therefore global journalism has lost so much of its integrity with no checks and balances.
Just like our need for additional political parties to stop the extreme political powers of our two party system, we need more media channels that will represent the majority of centrists who desire unfiltered, unbiased reporting in the various medias. Free internet channels are the worst propagators of hate, slander and negativity. Hence, it is up to all of us making sure that we don’t get taken in by the spinners and liars in global media circles. We need to read more books, reports and history for OURSELVES instead of lazily accepting whatever a journalist writes or reads on air. We can’t trust snippets of video or audio broadcasts to be real or “unedited”. Most of us are not free of the fog of medias “smoke and mirrors”. It is very hard not to be affected by these deceitful practices as the lack of absolute knowledge on so many issues causes us to put our confidence in the hands of these dodgy media sources or simply not have a clear understanding of an issue before taking a stand on them.
Perhaps the only thing we CAN do is choose more wisely those medias that fill up our time and consciousness, and 2) not allow ourselves emotionally driven, knee-jerk reactions in passing on lies and misinformation. It is time to be more discerning…and less assumptive.
These and many other issues are being addressed in “The Truth about the Panama Papers”.