The job of the news

I’ve started to actively disagree with things when I encounter them.  It’s not that I have necessarily become more extreme in my views so much as I’ve become more vocal.  I’m more sure of my self when I voice my opinion or advocate for my position.  I don’t try to steam roll anyone, or advance my position via belligerence, I just state my case in as honest and factual manner as possible.  What’s more, I hold others to the same standard.  I didn’t used to be that way.  There was a time when I said everyone was entitled to their own opinion, as if that meant they shouldn’t be confronted on things when they lied or misrepresented the situation.  I now longer believe that.  Now, if you can’t present your position using available facts, I call you on it.  You might have an opinion, but that no longer means it is valid simply because you exist.  It turns out you can be wrong.  Utterly, irretrievably wrong.  If you continue to promote that position, irrespective of the factual evidence, I have a problem and I will take it up with you.

For example, I present to you this Billings Gazette article.  It is somewhat light on facts, very heavy on assumptions, and absolutely without shame with regards to implied guilt.  I don’t agree with that approach by a news paper.  A news paper’s job, it’s very reason for existence in an ethical world, is to report the situation in as neutral and factual manner as possible as determined by the ideals left throughout history.  Leave the people to determine their own opinions, beyond the influence of the news.  Nothing about this article took that approach and I am disgusted that it was printed.  If we do not expect the best, demand the best, then we are left with what we are given.  Ideals are just that, perfection in a vacuum, but we strive towards them so that we might do better than we have in the past.  That is my expectation, and challenge, to the Billings Gazette.  Do better.

 

*** Updated *** Less than thirty minutes after I wrote my letter and posted this, the Billings Gazette actually called me to let me know that they received my letter and that it would be forwarded to the managing editor. I don’t know if anything will happen beyond that, but I will give credit where credit is due, I did not believe the Gazette would even acknowledge what I had written, much less contact me. Still, if anyone else feels the same way I do, or even differently!, please take the time to write the Gazette. If we don’t start holding our media to a higher standard, how we can we expect them to change?

By Dan Granot

I chose the Shorter Whitman because of his work, "Song of Myself" and because of my self-deprecating sense of humor. I am under no illusion that I can write successful essays or poetry, but I have been known to write them anyway.

2 comments

  1. I have recently been involved in a couple of stories reported by this paper and one which should have been. At no time did any of the reporters from the newspaper or the television stations ask any questions of the witnesses. Nor did they make their presence apparent when they did stop by. Their presence was limited to a photographer fifty to a hundred yards away. No, this was not a controlled crime scene. They did not print the police statement nor even properly paraphrase the police statement.

    I find it increasingly difficult to believe that they demonstrate higher standards of accuracy on stories I don’t have intimate knowledge of than those I do. Moreover, this has eroded my trust i any news story. I still remember Dan Rather’s ‘fake but true’ documents.

    1. I think it is more than time that there be a backlash against such reporting. I remember reading an interview with the founder of Breitbart, who basically started the online news blog/website because they felt that there wasn’t conservative answer to the news on the Left. It wasn’t that he felt there was a dearth of quality journalism, though I’m sure he felt so in his own mind, but that there wasn’t a politically backed response to counter the politics of the other side. He was wrong. It’s not about sides, it’s about demanding a better product, not a different bias.

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