There is so much bad stuff going on in this world that I have a very hard time dealing with all of the stories. One day I worry that I should be more afraid than I am. I’m concerned I’m growing more cynical every day. Other days I fear I’m becoming immune to the horror.
At first, I thought it was me.
An old Hard-Hearted Hannah.
But during recent coverage of the Baltimore protests and associated violence, I realized where my cynicism was coming from. Television journalists on several channels were inciting emotional outbursts, working as hard as they could to stir up feelings and aggravate the situation.
Coverage of the news and exercising freedom of the press have fallen to a new low.
Journalists were always supposed to report the story, not become the story. That’s the integrity part, ladies and gentlemen of the press, and it shouldn’t matter whether you’re in print/online media or visual media.
I want to stay on top of the news, but I sure don’t want to put up with the reporters on the scene who get in the middle of the crisis and dance around like maniacs as they thrust their microphones in one face after another, asking provocative questions, spreading lies, rumor-mongering. In one case, the show anchor, sitting at his desk, constantly fed argumentative questions to the reporter who was interviewing a Baltimore elected official. Pushy, unnecessary, and hardly an example of news-gathering.
What do you think? Where do you go to learn what’s happening in the world?
Alex J. Cavanaugh says
That’s what they do all right. Reporters used to report news. Now they spend their time slanting it. Anger to stir people up and feat to control them.
The really bad part, Alex, is that it wouldn’t be happening if there was no audience for it. I know people are watching because they run over to Facebook and Twitter and send the latest crazy story/rumor around the world without waiting to check the facts. Very sad!
John Paul McKinney says
Thanks for this post, Pat. A few years ago Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Alex Jones, tackled this issue in an excellent book, “Losing the News.” He distinguishes between the “iron core” of the news, the stuff of traditional journalism that includes investigative reporting, from advocacy news, tabloid news, entertainment, etc. That “news of accountability” is losing ground to the “news of assertion,” the sort of thing that Dean is referring to. I’m afraid things have gotten worse since then. I hate to think of what the upcoming election cycle will bring. I still think, “the truth shall make you free.”
When the election season really gets rolling, JP, I will be ignoring the news, refusing to answer the phone, and dropping the folks on social media who can’t resist adding to the craziness. It’s going to get ugly!
M. K. Theodoratus says
Know a bit about wondering if I’m too cynical for words. The problem: My cynicism creates too many words.
I do have a simplistic explanation though. It’s all part of the corporate paradigm. “Bigger is better” “The only thing that matters is the bottom line.”
Translation, it the broadcast companies can make more money by inciting [name your subject}, they’ll do it. It’s way we get all the hysteria from broadcasters–even about the weather.
i know! They turn every snow storm into a killer blizzard and every thunderstorm into a potential flood. Very tiresome.
Dean k miller says
I stay away from TV news for the most part. The cable news reporters are more celebrity entertainers, or so they think. Each has their agenda and can spout as much as they like. No issues with that, but there is a lack of credibility (in my eyes) of what and how they “report” the “news.”
No credibility, that’s for sure, Dean. When a whole network seems to slant one political direction or another or have a personal agenda to try to increase ratings, how can we believe anything they say? I just wish more regular people would speak out. Turning off the news is a response, but it doesn’t send that big message to the sponsors, and that’s probably the one that means the most to those network pundits.
Amy k ryan says
I agree Pat. It seems like they will go after only the most Extreme spokes people and ignore all of the reasonable people who are just trying to solve problems in a constructive way. When all they do is film the violence, that makes the rest of the people who actually have a valid grievance seem like criminals and that’s not fair.
Hi Amy! Agree 100%. And we know there are plenty of reasonable people involved in any situation, people who are working hard to make things better. I’d like to hear lots more from them.
Luana Krause says
Pat,, I totally agree. That’s the reason I don’t watch TV news anymore. I’d rather get my news from the paper or online, but even that can be skewed. For me, the first time I became aware of the malfeasance of the media was with results of the Bush-Gore election in 2000.. It was the PRESS who were at fault and caused the horrific recounts in Florida. They mistakenly announced the winner before the polls closed on the East coast. It was the fault of the media and they never ever took responsibility for that. They blamed everyone but themselves. Unbelievable!
The media rarely admits it made a mistake, but sometimes when clear lying is exposed, I think…for a moment…there’s hope. And again, I dread the whole election cycle. It’s going to be awful! The only thing I watch is the actual debates, never the “expert analysis” on the debates.
Luana Krause says
Pat, I agree. The debates only. I also watch CSPAN to get actually people speaking for themselves, not a “reporter’s” interpretation.
Chris Nugent says
Amen to this!
I remember the exact day I lost all faith in the mainstream media. A major news channel was doing hurricane coverage and they had a live reporter on site in a flooded street. She floated in a canoe with her microphone, ostensibly in water too deep to navigate otherwise. While midway through her report, two guys splashed by in front of her, hardly ankle deep in water. It was at once both the most hilarious and sad thing I’ve ever seen.
There are few outlets I trust anymore. These are BBC News, Al Jazeera, and NPR. Even NPR can be biased sometimes. I also like Jalopnik’s Foxtrot Alpha page for technical and military reporting, There are others I can’t remember right now.
Anymore, you have to take several sources of information and combine it in your head to get the best picture of what is going on. This gets exhausting, especially in election season.
I dread election season, Chris! The way the press goes after the candidates in attempts to smear them all is pathetic. Yes, we do want to know the facts, but let’s wait until the facts are clear, people!
Margot Kinberg says
I couldn’t agree with you more, Pat, about integrity. Journalists are supposed to report news, and they’re supposed to do so only after they have checked all of their facts carefully. To do otherwise is to cheat readers and worse, as we’ve seen in Baltimore. There are other incidents, too, that I could dredge up. This is one reason for which I don’t ever believe a story – especially a major ‘bombshell’ – until I’ve searched through several sources.
I know what you mean, Margot! That “Breaking News” banner should read “Latest Rumor Which May be Totally Unfounded.”
The people who are supposed to be reporting the news are acting more like entertainers doing improv…only they’re not funny!