What we have here is a failure to communicate..

With all of the ways to get information today it would seem that we should all be better informed about the issues. The problem is that there is too much news and that news is too often incomplete.

I have spent the better part of my professional career in this business and I have to say while most of the journalists I have worked with are progressive in their approach. Few are truly crusaders for a cause. They are however, woefully uninformed about many of the core issues they are called to report on.

To make matters worse the general public often has an unrealistic view of the role the media plays in reporting the news of the day.

Here’s a good example. I had a couple come into my office last week to take me and my old editor, Ian Dunn, to task for our reporting on the controversy up in Plain over the Fire Department’s efforts to buy land from the Cascade School District.

We had run an article on the front page of the Leavenworth Echo that was written by the Fire Chief up in Plain. They were upset that we had given the Fire Chief the opportunity to express his opinion on the front page without vetting every word the Fire Chief said in his article.

There are a couple of issues here. First, the Fire Chief is in charge and he speaks for the department on official matters. His comments may well be his opinion but as the head of the organization his opinion is the official position of the organization. Individuals in the community may disagree and they can express their disagreement in a letter to the editor but their opinion does not carry the same weight. Second, we do not “vet” opinions we report them. It is up to the reader to decide whom they believe.

The media is not the judge of truth or accuracy of claims made. When possible we do try to get the opinions of both sides of controversial issues some media do a better job of that than others.

For a number of decades politicians have tried to challenge media credibility by claiming the role of the press is to be “fair and balanced” or “objective.” Here’s a news flash. There is nothing in the Constitution that says media news reports must meet a standard of balance. The US Constitution simply guarantees that the press is free to report on the issues of the day free of any governmental oversight.

It is up to the reader to decide where they stand on the issues of the day.

Many early newspapers were unabashedly dedicated to a political agenda and proudly included “Democrat” or “Republican” in the name of their paper.

Many individuals today do not want to have their prejudice challenged. It’s the old song, “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up!” They often use the phrase, “you’re entitled to opinion but not your own set of facts.”

This week my friend Fred Obee takes issue with the President accusing news media of spreading “fake news.” Clearly, he is offended that not everything he chooses to print is viewed favorably by readers or politicians. I’m often offended by Rachel Maddow, MSNBC and Rosie O’Donnell but I watch from time to time.

Many local people are offended by my editorials. I am sorry they are offended but I actually wish they would respond with a letter that challenges my positions not just my character.

It is time we all looked at the challenges we face as adults not impetuous children. Too often we use words intended to incite an emotional response instead of address a significant issue. Generating anger rarely solves any problem it simply increases the divisions that separate us.

User menu

NCW Media Newspapers