“I’ve got my own sources . . .”
Don’t trust the media? Too many “smut-seeking journalists”? Too much sensationalism? Unchecked facts? Unverified claims and assertions, innuendos, rumours reported as fact?
We hear or read these accusations often enough, and we witness the indignation, the outrage, and hurt feelings (egos) of those claiming to be offended – a lot of drama here.
However, from this side of the computer screen, I suggest we take a pause, don’t grab every football and run with it. I suggest we take a close look at the motives of those throwing these accusations at the media.
Mr Trump’s anger is salesmanship, we get that, but do we get the reasons for these accusations? For two centuries, “the press” has investigated scandals and back-room deals, favourable legislation, appointments and rulings – and it’s been the press which has revealed that so many of these shady deals are in fact very shady. No doubt, there were also false claims reported by reporters, often under media-owner directives. The traditional media is an expensive proposition, assumable by only the corporately well-connected. Their hidden agendas need exposure to sunlight, as much as the denials and counter-accusations by poor politicians, moguls and executives who have been “wronged” (by the light).
We ourselves have to do that bit of work. It’s not hard to fact-check. Follow up suspicions and confirm or deny them – don’t take someone’s word for it, especially when the someone has vested interests at stake.
The worst thing to do is look for “alternative” facts, different media – social media, in other words. Why anyone would seek alternatives from a less-honest source of news is hard to understand. Or is it because social “media” is just so easy?
It’s our own mental health, our democracy’s health, and our communities’ best interests which are at stake, and these require more than the easiest avenue. How about narrowing focus, ignoring claims and accusations which are irrelevant to our own mental health, democracy, and community?
Keep in mind that journalists chose their profession – not because it is well-paid, offers great job security, benefits and pensions – journalism promises none of that! Yet, every year, hundreds of bright kids graduate from J-school and set off on their mission to inquire, to research, report, and to write well about the important things in our lives. That’s not videos about puppies, or hushed claims about conspiracies.
Journalism is a vocation, besides a profession. Besides its professional standards, the field demands commitment (and a chaotic personal life). We should feel well-served by these professionals, even if there are quality ups and downs in their work.
Journalists do work on all platforms, electronic to paper-and-ink. We need them all, we need their professionalism and standards. And from there, it’s our job to confirm those few remaining questionable reports. Least helpful are the obscurantists who hide their own actions behind accusations of bias. Least helpful, the providers of alternative facts, as if constructed reality has the slightest claim on our attention.