Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Expounding 001 - News Media

Note: The following post is OPINION, and thus should not be confused with FACT. The Writer reserves the right to rant at will, and will.

Oh, for the days of old. You know the ones I'm talking about - when the media was about reporting FACTS, and OPINIONS were reserved for the "Editorials" section. Now, if you ask the average young person on the street (I'm bluffing - I haven't, and I won't - I tend not to want anything to do with the average young person on the street), they will likely be hard pressed to tell the difference between fact and opinion.

Opinion, and its evil cousin, emotion, have bit by bit crept in and obliterated the media as it was. Media now seems (to me - this being an OPINION, of course) so full of emotional response and fluffy "And just how did that make you feel?" crap that reporting the facts has gone the way of the Dodo bird (or, if the Dodo doesn't do it for you, insert name of extinct species of your choice, here). Yes, I'm quite adept at the twisted sentence. Fun.

The newspapers are the ones that offend me most. So many people place way too much value in what is written, taking anything published in a newspaper as undeniable truth. Sadly, much of what makes it into newspapers today is unfounded pseudo-fact, poorly written, improperly researched, and decorated with the liberal application of emotional misdirection and sneakily placed opinions. Sigh.

Radio media I pretty much discount entirely. Trying to report the news, including squeezing in the facts with the much more popular and therefore required for ratings opinions, in a three minute spot on the hour, including sports and weather, is darn near impossible. When the radio news comes on, I put in a cd.

Television news is the worst of all. It is virtually impossible to have a simple, non-biased, fact-based reporting of world events these days. Why do I say that? Well, as the majority of television news reports are filled with graphic video footage of carnage and pain, the pictures generate an emotional response even if you turn the sound off. That said, it becomes impossible to have an impartial reporting of facts, when in the background is heart-renching footage expected to generate emotional outrage.

So I've ranted enough. Time for a two minute quick fix. My solution? Preface every single article in the newspaper with one of two words: either FACT or OPINION. As soon as any opinion slips into an article, whether it be a response to the ever so stupid question "And how did that make you feel?", or the writer expressing outrage or indignity, the label has to be OPINION. In addition, a requirement for fact checking must be designed and required. At first, very few articles would be labeled FACT, but I believe that would change, as both readers and writers became aware that the drivel soaked OPINION articles might make fun reading, but aren't actually very informative at all.

It almost goes without saying (but only almost, because I am saying it here) that every single television news report would have the word OPINION floating over the anchorperson's right shoulder, while video footage played over their left shoulder. To shift television news reporting into an unbiased reporting of the facts would require the dropping of photographic footage. Because photographic footage rips at the heartstrings. And generates emotional response. Which is OPINION. Duh.

But that's just my OPINION. Feel free to leave yours.


Susan said...

I have been getting angrier and angrier at the news media and their lack of attention to detail and even more to them injecting opinion into what should be news... As you say all reports should be designated FACT or OPINION so that we can easily dicern what is worth reading.

Karoda said...

How about opinion based on facts??? Its really my take that ALL news is relative and subjective...its the human condition and what I as an individual is to look for whether the writer/reporter/group/corporation speaks to our base humanity or strives for a higher intellectual/community/spirit of our humanity...but thats just me and my opinion :)

lennytheobold3192 said...
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Rosemarie Buchanan said...

CBC is our favourite Canadian media. It's not immune to the subjective trash so prevalent in commercial radio, but it's by far superior to any of the commercial crap!

BTW, I LIVE on Vancouver Island ... ahhhh, gotta love it!

All the best,