The subject of “fake” news is on the lips (finger tips) of our President often these days. Depends of course whether your TV set or magazine-newspaper rack is positioned on the left or right side of the room or your favorite stuffed chair, but there is much to support his contention that “journalism” is no longer practiced by the “drive-by” media; at least the electronic media.
One Merriam-Webster (that’s a dictionary for those living in Michigan) definition is that it is “writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts, or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.” If you agree, then round one goes to the President because there sure is a lot of “interpretation” and mis-interpretation going on these days as I view it.
Those of us who write columns may be journalists in the sense that we are writers for a news medium, but the very fact that we opine about matters causes the editor to place us on the editorial page as opinion columnists, not front page where real journalists toil and get their credits. Cable “news” channels are loath to do that. Only one of the three major cable news organizations has a daily balanced traditional news show per se.
For all intents and purposes they all spend most of their day rendering opinion. Once upon a time news was reported by journalists. Today, it is dissected and vivisected by a clutch of “experts” (many of whom look to have just come out of J-School), seated around long curving designer tables on glitzy TV sets with enormous backdrops, designer coffee mugs … and smugs.
As I watch it all unfold, I often wonder how the average viewer perceives the content offered. Some of you will be loath to agree with the following which I read somewhere: An Ohio State study showed that “conservatives identify and absorb all angles of a story before developing their opinion. They’re comfortable reading dissenting views. Liberals tend to only acquire information that aligns with their own beliefs. They refuse to look at dissenting opinions and feel secure in thinking they’re 100% right.” Frankly, I couldn’t find any such study in my brief search of the internet though it no doubt exists, or who knows, that report might fall in the “fake research” category, or be someone’s “interpretation” of results of such a study.
Newspapers are similar in their bias. If you are a political junky and Google the major ideological print voices each day, you know that the Washington Post and New York Times are left-handed, and the Washington Times swerves the other way. One has to dig a little deeper when reading the other majors.
Historically newspapers, large and small, have generally always had an ideological position and said so in their mastheads: The Smithtown Republican Gazette, The Jonesboro Democrat, The Indy Independent. If you lived in a one-horse, one newspaper town, and wanted ideological balance you went to the local saloon or coffee shop and listened to or argued with your neighbors. If you didn’t care, you went fishin.’
That’s what I did. I fished the internet and sank my hook in a heated back-and-forth debate going on between a conservative reader-reviewer and his liberal counterpart about the fairness and accuracy of their favorite “news” media. I think the debate ended brilliantly when the conservative reviewer neatly summed it up: “I read newspapers and think. I watch TV news and think.” Nothing fake about that. In fact, it sounds like a good practice for all of us to consider. The operative word there of course is “think.”
Now here’s some “good” news: A little over a year ago I wrote my first article for the Xenia Gazette about my August birthday flight in the Wright B Flyer. Later in the year, the “BrownBird” was taken out of service for refurbishing and installation of a brand new engine.
This past Saturday (9/9/17), the B Flyer was back in the air at Dayton Wright Brothers Airport giving rides again. Fifteen or so area folks became Honorary Aviators. For information about how to take a Flight, just call 937-885-2327 on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday between 9 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.
Mel Grossman is a local resident and guest columnist.