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Monday, June 11, 2018

Is -THIS- What Journalism Has Become?

I realize, at 49, I'm as old as dirt, but back in my day, it was expected that a professional journalist would report the facts, free of purposeful bias, exaggeration, inflammatory remarks, and personal opinions. Way back then (the 80s), people had respect for journalists because, in general, they could be trusted to report the truth. 

Fast forward to 2018. Purposeful bias, exaggeration, inflammatory remarks, and personal opinions seem to be 90% of what so-called journalists report these days. And I'm not pointing fingers only at liberal news media because, unfortunately, many conservative news sources are reporting from obvious slants, as well. And, we the general public have completely bought into it. Why? Because our itching ears listen for what we want to hear. And the news media, now monetized for tweets, posts, comments, etc., will regularly toss out what is tantamount to click bait. 

Here's a case in point, representing a microcosm of what we see today: Soledad O'Brien, formerly of CNN where she gained great notoriety as an anchor, is now the CEO of "Starfish Media Group." Here's how the Starfish Media describes itself (from their website): "Starfish Media Group is a multi-platform media production and distribution company, dedicated to uncovering and investigating empowering stories that look at the often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty, and opportunity through personal narratives."

This is not a news outlet. This is a private company. But this company produces "news" for HBO, Al Jezeera America, and dozens of other sources. Ms. O'Brien and Starfish Media utilize social media whenever possible, as do most media outlets these days. But today, Ms. Obrien posted a "Tweet" about Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Apparently, Mr. Dorsey had decided to have a meal at Chik Fil A and posted about using his new "Cash App" to pay for the meal. (If that's not big news, whew, what is?)

Ms. O'Brien saw the tweet, retweeted (is that the correct term, young folk?) the following: "This is an interesting company (Chik Fil A) to boost during Pride month." 

Immediately half a dozen media outlets seized upon the story and ran with it, usually posting subsequent Tweets from angry folk from the LGBTQ community, as well as, response Tweets from angry folk in the Christian community. Outrage, clamor, insults from all over the spectrum. Instant story. 

This is not journalism. It's sensationalism. This is the combination of private companies and news media outlets "selling a product" at the expense of the people they claim to serve, as well as, other unsuspecting people all over our nation. Look again at Starfish Media's unabashed self-description: "...dedicated to uncovering and investigating empowering stories that look at the often divisive issues..."

Their product: divisive issues. Who gets empowered? They do. More money. More notoriety. More press. More tweets, etc. Can you hear the cash register cha-chinging? Can you hear the outrage as people groups get "played" by these dubiously empowering stories and thousands like them? 

As purveyors of any kind of news, we need to say, "Wait, a minute, I see what you're trying to do here, but I am NOT going to let it work on me." If you're reading and you grew up with multiple siblings, did you ever have one sibling try to play two other siblings off of each other? Or maybe the cunning kiddo tried to play parents off of each other? That's precisely what's happening here, except it comes from "professionals," and the stakes are much higher.

Is there an adjective that better describes America over the last several years than "divided?" Why? Two reasons: 1) journalist care more about $$$ and notoriety than they do about the truth. and 2)  an overwhelming number of Americans are as gullible as Gomer Pyle (young folk: you'll have to look up that reference). 

If you're wondering why I haven't posted any links to these news stories or tweets, it's because I don't want to contribute to the problem I'm criticizing.

The solution, my friends, is ignorance. Ignore the media. Ignore the their attempts to kick the hornet nest. Do not retweet. Do not click links that have inflammatory headlines. Do not comment. Ignore them, and like your older brother/sister, maybe they'll just go away. 

I'm not going to be surprised if the CEO of Twitter gets censured or issues a very public apology or even gets fired. Hey, it happened to the CrossFit spokesperson. Nope. No links. Not gonna do it. But it happened. An otherwise well-respected professional lost his livelihood for expressing at worst a religious conviction or even a simple opinion. 

To those in any minority (heck or majority), don't let yourself be led into anger, fury, insults, contempt, etc. Think things through. See the angles being played to stir you up. Christians aren't killing this country. LGBTQ people are not killing this country. African Americans aren't, Whites aren't, and neither are all the other groups these media outlets claim to empower. Big mouthed blowhards are the villains here. Don't get fooled again.