Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thoughts on the Media

A facebook friend posted the following Dan Rather statement:

Dan Rather
August 18, 2016

"If residents of Louisiana are watching television news, they must be feeling woefully forgotten. We have the worst natural disaster in years. People have lost their lives and families have lost lifetimes of memories under the waters. However, on cable news at least, the bizarre, apparently fabricated story of the discredited armed robbery of Olympic swimmers is getting almost wall-to-wall coverage. It is ridiculous.

I don't mean to downplay the interest of a story like the one out of Rio. It is so strange that it is compelling. What were they thinking? I wonder that as well. But the news business should have higher standards. Technically the supposed robbery is news, but not when compared to what is happening in Louisiana. It doesn't take much imagination as a reporter to find gripping human interest stories there too, not to mention the headline-worthy state of emergency and the underlying take away about the specter of climate change on extreme weather.

Of course that kind of reporting requires resources and may not draw the easy ratings of pundits playing the schadenfreude game in air conditioned studios. But that doesn't mean it isn't important. It doesn't mean it isn't news. And it doesn't mean that news organizations can give it the second-billing it is getting. I must say that I had reason to be around many local newsrooms in Texas this week and they were dedicating resources to the disaster befalling the state to their east.

A final rhetorical question- if these floods were happening in New York City, or Washington DC or even San Francisco, do you think the coverage would be different?"
My Thoughts on the Media

Thanks to Dan Rather for that statement!  Maybe it's only we "seniors" who recall entirely different journalistic standards and priorities.  Just a few of my own thoughts follow.

It seems a focus on compassion and true priorities is largely gone from the headline "news", and is perhaps missing from society in general.  Can the media can no longer create enough public interest to profit from stories like the Louisiana flooding?  Or is it just easier and more profitable to focus on sensationalism, crime, celebrities and immorality?  Has politics become as "down and dirty" and slanted to extremes of right or left as the media reports it?  It just seems almost impossible to find truth and relevance in any of these extremes. Has advertising profit become the guiding force in news reporting as it has in the rest of - well - just about everything.

Journalism was a part of my English courses in high school.  Truth and factual objectivity  was most important.  The content, ethical and moral standards that we were taught to expect are so lacking in most media news today.  Profit and ratings seem to be the number one factor in reporting the so called "news".  At least they seem to be imply that they report "what the public wants".  Really?  Not this member of the public!  "Years ago the Rio Olympic "robbery" story would have been relegated to the sports section of any reputable news outlet, or maybe just in a gossip column!  It is actually is more suitable for the tabloids except they've gone a step further into outright fiction and lies.

I doubt I'm alone in my hunger for the old standards in journalism!  I've developed a cynical attitude toward the media and politics.  I'd like to see a change.  But I think the media has to take the initiative to change and return to the old standards of objective, relevant and truthful journalism along with a more beneficial and educational focus, keeping the opinion pieces separate from the factual news, Hopefully the public will then re-capture a trust in media news reporting and find it to be the information source that is needed in a productive and educated society.  We should have access to true factual news to enable us to form our own opinions and to conduct our lives. There is a need for comprehensive news of disasters such as the Louisiana floods.  I sure didn't need headlines and continued updates about the supposed Rio robbery!  Guess it's a matter of values but I agree with Dan Rather!

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