Sunday, February 12, 2017

What doesn't add up about distrusting modern day journalism

I'm a recovering News Junkie.  When I fall off of the wagon, it gets intense.  I'll listen to NPR all morning, watch Fox news all night, and read the Washington Post and New York Times online throughout the day.  Oh yeah, I'll also check my BBC and AP apps and twitter feeds too.  My family knows when I binge on the news.  It gets ugly when I neglect the world around me to catch up on the world.

Who do you turn to for news, where do you turn?  Newspapers, cable TV, radio, internet, this list goes on.  Chances are, there are more news outlets you avoid than ones you feel you can trust.

Over the last few years, the biases of many major news outlets have become so crystallized that they overtly share their political leanings quite freely.  The corollary to this is, many Americans now judge the reliability or trustworthiness of their colleagues and friends, based on what news source their acquaintances consume.

Haven't you ever been suspicious of someone simply based on their favorite choice of news?  It's nearly impossible not to fall into this divisive trap.

It's not that reporters and commentators have gotten lazy.  The entire "information production" is charged with energy and it's clear there is a lot of effort poured into the pyrotechnics of delivering the news these days.  There's something far more sinister afoot regarding the way our news is being distilled.

Mainstream journalists have gotten away from presenting simple facts, and they have mastered entertaining us with their prejudices and opinions.  We have a place in our culture for news sources to spread opinions, it's called the column.  Columnists are paid to share their opinions about current events, even editors have their own page.  Talkingheads on TV have their monologues too.  There's nothing wrong with this, what is disturbing is when "news" is reported as news but it's clearly sharing a company's policy preferences or biases.

Why do we distrust the majority of the news outlets?  Simply put, they all seem to break the cardinal rule of journalism, i.e., simply report the facts and leave your opinions out of it.  Instead, it seems like news sources want to shape the story, and then shape their audience's perspectives.

It is almost as if news companies have decided to take it upon themselves to shape our minds, and to shape culture and society itself.  Here's where it gets interesting to me...

It's interesting being in a relativistic culture that says, "What's true for you isn't true for me" that people crave and even demand that truth and fact be reported, and these same people become outraged when a news sources slanders objectivity.  Now, we are cynical and jaded.  We don't trust anyone or anything, yet.

And maybe the larger question remains, why do we continue to tolerate or pay attention to news sources which we by & large mostly distrust?  It just doesn't add up, unless we are the lazy ones.

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