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Syme

The sad state of modern journalism

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I would provide links as examples, but I think everyone knows what I'm talking about.

 

Tabloids, finger-pointing and sensationalism pollute the information stream. News networks don't even try to be bipartisan anymore. Honest, pure newscasting is replaced by "personalities" who provide 10% content, 90% commentary. Tragedies become causes, victims become false martyrs.

 

But, this could be seen as just a continuation of western culture. Technology exists, and instead of using it to expand horizons, a huge chunk of people use it to 'skim'. The newspaper is being replaced by the ubiquitous internet, and with so many more forms of entertainment,  some people just 'don't have time' to care about leaving your mind unmade. We just want someone to tell us how it is!

 

The reason I'm concerned is this.

1. We live in a democracy, where a high-information and low-information voter are equal.

2. The future generation is being raised on a culture of logical fallacies - hasty generalizations and strawmans for example. If you can't decide what information to filter, you will just filter whatever you don't like.

3. This focus on commentary is harmful to originality. If your information consists of mostly commentary, how do you know how many thoughts are really your own?

 

So, is it the media's fault this is happening, or were they just giving us what we've been asking for? Do you think this is a major crisis, if so, how can we fix it?

Edited by Syme

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IMHO, a market is being created, and capitalists are filling a need to generate wealth.  It's the world's second-oldest profession.

 

Just as an incompetent CEO of a company (or president of a nation) can fail by surrounding himself or herself with yes-men (yes-persons?), every news consumer in the world now can surround himself or herself with yes-news-sources.  People today don't read the news to learn something new.  They read it to be affirmed and to be reminded that their own views are correct.  When news sources learned they could earn money by selling yeses, the structure of journalism changed.

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Guest MormonGator

I've been thinking about this for awhile. There really is no such thing as objective news now. Foxnews is conservative, MSNBC is liberal. CNN doesn't stand a chance. People don't really go for news anymore, they just go for a place that agrees with their preconceived bias. 

 

Not that I'm trying to sound better than anyone. I'm the same way. 

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This all started back in the late 19th century when journalists realized they can change the course of history through sensational news.

 

I don't think people necessarily look only for stuff that they want to hear.  They want to be told objective news.  But, that doesn't exist anymore because politicians realized they can use sensational news to bend perception.  So, the regular thinker has to wade through propaganda to get real news.  So they start looking for the propaganda aligned with their own principles because... who wants to have to argue your way to get to the news?

 

Anyway... this is always what I tell my children... I will teach you how to think.  You get to figure out what to think.

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Foxnews is conservative, MSNBC is liberal. CNN doesn't stand a chance.

 

This is also wrong, to the point of absurdity. Yet it is the common belief among Americans. (Cue the "pathetic sheep following the herd" comments.)

 

Fox News' analysis programs tend to be conservative, but only by comparison with the leftist slant taken by everyone else (including, perhaps especially, CNN). Fox News' actual news reporting looks to me to be the least slanted, by far. They do present the leftist take, of course, but they take care to present other angles, too. Since they take pro-life causes seriously, do not reflexively mock "tea party" ideas or stances, and so forth, this makes them look oh-so-conservative. Hey, if you're not pointing and laughing at the weird guys, you're obviously a weird guy yourself.

 

CNN is leftist. There can be no doubt. The fact that they are not as embarrassingly overt as, say, MSNBC doesn't magically make them unbiased. Frankly, Fox News' motto of "fair and balanced" is more true of Fox News than it is of any other major news source I know of, including (and especially) CNN.

 

Disclaimer: I have not watched any TV news in a few years now. But I don't believe things could have changed much in that department in a few years' time.

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Guest MormonGator

This is also wrong, to the point of absurdity. Yet it is the common belief among Americans. (Cue the "pathetic sheep following the herd" comments.)

 

Fox News' analysis programs tend to be conservative, but only by comparison with the leftist slant taken by everyone else (including, perhaps especially, CNN). Fox News' actual news reporting looks to me to be the least slanted, by far. They do present the leftist take, of course, but they take care to present other angles, too. Since they take pro-life causes seriously, do not reflexively mock "tea party" ideas or stances, and so forth, this makes them look oh-so-conservative. Hey, if you're not pointing and laughing at the weird guys, you're obviously a weird guy yourself.

 

CNN is leftist. There can be no doubt. The fact that they are not as embarrassingly overt as, say, MSNBC doesn't magically make them unbiased. Frankly, Fox News' motto of "fair and balanced" is more true of Fox News than it is of any other major news source I know of, including (and especially) CNN.

 

Disclaimer: I have not watched any TV news in a few years now. But I don't believe things could have changed much in that department in a few years' time.

Well said. Fox IS conservative compared to other news agencies, but that still makes it conservative. I'm in the tea party and haven't voted for a democrat for any major office in years, so obviously I don't have a problem with Foxnews. In fact, I thank them for broadcasting libertarian views like Judge Andrew Napolitano and John Stossel. I also love Fox business because I'm big into the market and investing. All that said, they are still conservative leaning. 

 

I'm rare among conservatives because I find CNN news kinda objective, compared to the networks and MSNBC. 

Confession: I loved watching MSNBC during the recent elections. Mean? You bet. But still fun to watch. 

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Fox NEWS bends conservative... not just the commentary programs.  They usually have analysts and panels on their news stories and there's usually a left-leaning on one side and a right-leaning on the other side.  This is balanced... except... when the analysts start talking, the anchor also puts in his 2 cents - either through statements or loaded questions - and skews the interview to the right. 

 

CNN does the same thing except their anchors are more obvious with their lean.  I cannot stand that Banfield girl.

 

Remember the 2nd Presidential debate when the moderator inserted herself in the debate and screwed Romney?  That's Fox and CNN news.

 

Also, it's not just what the anchors/analysts are saying either.  It's also just what story makes it to the newsroom.  Fox was the only news station that detailed Benghazi.  CNN went on a news story black-out going on 24/7 over Malaysian Flight 370 for a week while the Crimean Conflict waged on.  You wanna know details about the Crimean Conflict, you have to go to Fox.

 

MSNBC doesn't even attempt to be balanced.  I guess they'd be comparable to the news section of the 700 Club on the right.

 

So yeah, if I'm a news consumer, I wouldn't fix myself on one news source.  For American politics, I usually start out with Jamie Dupree's reports and dig from there.

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Would that be the Fox news that had some idiot saying Birmingham is a totally moozlum (why do they pronounce Muslim like that?) city?.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11338985/Fox-News-terror-expert-says-everyone-in-Birmingham-is-a-Muslim.html

Edited by Latter Days Guy

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Meh.  I don't go to news networks for news.  There's no reason.

 

There's a lot of garbage out there, but there's also plenty of not-garbage.  

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IMHO, a market is being created, and capitalists are filling a need to generate wealth.  It's the world's second-oldest profession.

 

Just as an incompetent CEO of a company (or president of a nation) can fail by surrounding himself or herself with yes-men (yes-persons?), every news consumer in the world now can surround himself or herself with yes-news-sources.  People today don't read the news to learn something new.  They read it to be affirmed and to be reminded that their own views are correct.  When news sources learned they could earn money by selling yeses, the structure of journalism changed.

This may be true but the structure of journalism changed BEFORE then.

The structure of journalism changed when journalists realized they can change the course of history by selective newscasting... hence, the Spanish-American war...

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This all started back in the late 19th century when journalists realized they can change the course of history through sensational news.

 

I don't think people necessarily look only for stuff that they want to hear.  They want to be told objective news. ..

 

I reject the notion that this all started at any particular time.  And although people claim to want objective news, objectivity is something to strive for but in reality more like beauty.  This is amply demonstrated whenever two or more people give an account of a traffic accident, serve on a jury, or even participate in a Gospel Doctrine class. 

 

Personally I find it fascinating how we use the term "the media".  It seems to be a buzz phrase for any news or opinion that we perceive as filtered through a different lens than the one we want.  FOX News, MSNBC, the Salt Lake Tribune or the Deseret News, etc. are certainly biased--all outlets demonstrate bias.  We definitely see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear, and take great pains to cause others to think the way we think.  As difficult as  it can be to stomach or endure the resultant "bad taste" one would have to avail oneself (metaphorically speaking) of everything from FOX News to Al Jazeera to truly perceive the objective truth--if that's even possible.

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As far as I can tell, there has never been a time where sober, clear-eyed journalism has won out among the members of a generation. This is not an attempt at cynicism, just realism. Fox News might well be the best we can hope for in telejournalism, not because they are unbiased, but because they are somewhat less biased than the CNN/NBC/etc. cabal -- or at least because they don't share the same lockstep biases with those others.

 

Of course, there is a much deeper point that we cannot hope journalism ever to approach. There is God's truth, eternal and everlasting, of which our attempts at "telling the truth" can never be better than a dim echo. We want to know things as they really are, as they really were, and as they really will be. All that we teach and believe should, ideally, point in the direction of this eternal truth. This is what the Church attempts to do, and is why the worst gospel doctrine lesson is truer than any anti-Mormon screed, however historically based their account may appear.

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As far as I can tell, there has never been a time where sober, clear-eyed journalism has won out among the members of a generation. This is not an attempt at cynicism, just realism. Fox News might well be the best we can hope for in telejournalism, not because they are unbiased, but because they are somewhat less biased than the CNN/NBC/etc. cabal -- or at least because they don't share the same lockstep biases with those others.

 

Of course, there is a much deeper point that we cannot hope journalism ever to approach. There is God's truth, eternal and everlasting, of which our attempts at "telling the truth" can never be better than a dim echo. We want to know things as they really are, as they really were, and as they really will be. All that we teach and believe should, ideally, point in the direction of this eternal truth. This is what the Church attempts to do, and is why the worst gospel doctrine lesson is truer than any anti-Mormon screed, however historically based their account may appear.

 

I suppose that your heart and my heart beat to some degree to the same rhythm.  I wonder, however, at a comparison between journalism and God's Truth. I only say this because journalism is (in my mind) strictly a mortal construct with a very different purpose than what would relate to God's Truth.  And I still (good naturedly) disagree with you about the relative bias of FOX NEWS or any other outlet of similar level.  But I'm willing to try to understand how you and why you think so. :)  Oh, and just to attempt to lessen the possibility of misunderstanding let me be sure you realize my reference to Gospel Doctrine class was with regard to *participants* and not correlated content.  --Best wishes.

Edited by UT.starscoper

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I suppose that your heart and my heart beat to some degree to the same rhythm.  I wonder, however, at a comparison between journalism and God's Truth. I only say this because journalism is (in my mind) strictly a mortal construct with a very different purpose than what would relate to God's Truth.  And I still (good naturedly) disagree with you about the relative bias of FOX NEWS or any other outlet of similar level.  But I'm willing to try to understand how you and why you think so. :)  Oh, and just to attempt to lessen the possibility of misunderstanding let me be sure you realize my reference to Gospel Doctrine class was with regard to *participants* and not correlated content.  --Best wishes.

 

Actually, I think we are saying the same thing with respect to journalism vs. God's truth. As I wrote, "we cannot hope journalism ever to approach" ultimate truth.

 

As for Fox News, the truth is I don't watch it any more than I watch CNN, which is to say a couple of times a year. My judgment is based on my impressions from over the years, and the fact that Fox News reports a surprising number of stories that simply are not reported anywhere else, except that occasionally one of these items will become big-time and CNN et al. will all pretend that they were there reporting on it all the time.

 

The leftist bias in the news media is so overt and pervasive that I believe many news employees (who themselves are mostly very leftist) honestly just don't even see it. Perhaps this lessens their personal culpability, but it leaves no hope for truthful reporting. And that is a cynical viewpoint that I am loath to adopt, yet I see no way around it.

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But *why* would we even entertain a hope of journalism approaching God's truth?  It seems to me not unlike hoping that Algebra would approach the doctrines of Salvation. 

 

It also seems (to me) that as you describe FOX NEWS you are really only describing the way it's owners go about disseminating their prescribed bias. So, it appears that FOX' bias pleases some, while those you decry have biases that please others.  And if a given network such as CNN picks up on a story that FOX runs first, I wonder so what?  Each network spins the story accordingly--after all they are businesses first and foremost. 

 

Now, when you use the word leftist I'm wondering if you use it to include anything to the left of your own bias.  Is the lens through which you interpret our topic one that causes you to see the issue in terms of a good-vs-evil dichotomy?  I'm asking sincerely and not as a rhetorical device--I am trying to understand your viewpoint.

Edited by UT.starscoper

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But *why* would we even entertain a hope of journalism approaching God's truth?  It seems to me not unlike hoping that Algebra would approach the doctrines of Salvation.

 

Because we are using the word "truth". Therefore, it is important to specify what we are talking about, and how that word might have different usages.
 
Besides, the divine and eternal concept of "truth" is not completely divorced from our common usage of the term, as your example suggests. Indeed, people "telling the truth" means that they are relating a faithful history, at least as they understand it. It is not unreasonable to expect that those claiming to offer "the truth" would make some reasonable attempt to match that divine standard, even if it is understood going in that the attempt is, strictly speaking, impossible.

 

It also seems (to me) that as you describe FOX NEWS you are really only describing the way it's owners go about disseminating their prescribed bias. So, it appears that FOX' bias pleases some, while those you decry have a biases that please others. 

 

No, it is much more than this. Fox News at least makes an attempt at an even-handed reporting of news events. (Note that it is reporting that I'm talking about. In their opinion programs such as Hannity or O'Reilly, Fox News is as biased as CNN.) CNN, and pretty much all other news outlets, seem to have abandon all but a pretense of that effort about 20 years ago.

 

And if a given network such as CNN picks up on a story that FOX runs first, I wonder so what?  Each network spins the story accordingly--after all they are businesses first and foremost.

 

True enough. But why have news agencies (other than Fox) not picked up on many of the stories about corruption in the White House? The agencies fairly existed on such stories in the Bush administration. Are we to believe that the Obama administration is actually cleaner than Bush's White House? Bush's words (and those of his administration officials) were dissected at every turn, yet how often has the very same media turned a blind eye to the foibles and misstatements of the current administration? If it does not fit their narrative, they are loath to report it.

 

Why do most news agencies use the term "pro-choice" to describe abortion "rights" advocates, yet use the term "anti-abortion" (and sometimes the more blatant "anti-choice") to describe opponents of elective abortion? The abortion "rights" advocates certainly are not "pro-choice" from the perspective of the fetus, or of the father. Yet the media accepts their self-description. Why not then offer the same courtesy to the "pro-life" advocates? This is merely one obvious example of this tendency, which I believe no honest person can deny.

 

I frankly have little stomach for defending Fox News, but it is very clearly less biased in its reporting and terminology usage than other news outlets such as CNN.

 

Now, when you use the word leftist I'm wondering if you use it to include anything to the left of your own bias.

 
Probably, to some extent. Such is probably inevitable. But compared even to the norm of 25 years ago, current media attitudes are radically leftist. Again, I do not see how this can be honestly denied.

 

Is the lens through which you interpret our topic cause you to see the issue in terms of a good vs. evil dichotomy?

 

I do not understand this question. Can you give me an example of something which the media does not view and present through a "good vs. evil dichotomy"?

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My last question was an attempt to have you explain whether you personally see this right-left description of various media outlets (FOX on the right, and CNN on the left, for example) as synonymous with good vs. evil (FOX good vs CNN evil).

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My last question was an attempt to have you explain whether you personally see this right-left description of various media outlets (FOX on the right, and CNN on the left, for example) as synonymous with good vs. evil (FOX good vs CNN evil).

 

I think CNN is hypocritical, masquerading under the false pretense of "objectivity". I think Fox News is somewhat less hypocritical. I do not see that as meaning that Fox News is "good" or even that CNN is "evil", so I would answer your question with a no.

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Because we are using the word "truth". Therefore, it is important to specify what we are talking about, and how that word might have different usages.
 
Besides, the divine and eternal concept of "truth" is not completely divorced from our common usage of the term, as your example suggests. Indeed, people "telling the truth" means that they are relating a faithful history, at least as they understand it. It is not unreasonable to expect that those claiming to offer "the truth" would make some reasonable attempt to match that divine standard, even if it is understood going in that the attempt is, strictly speaking, impossible.

 

I thought we were talking about the comparison of journalism with something you've been calling "God's truth".  That isn't the same (to me) as talking about the word "truth' in general and I don't think we really talked about how that word might have different usages.  Which is perhaps why I am not seeing it the way you see it--I don't perceive journalism to be about truth in the way you are using it. But I see now, at least I think I do, that it could be part of your larger world-view lens so to speak.  I think it was probably what lead me to ask the dichotomy question earlier.  But I have enjoyed chatting with you.   

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The leftist bias in the news media is so overt and pervasive that I believe many news employees (who themselves are mostly very leftist) honestly just don't even see it. 

Amen to that.  Hugh Hewitt, AM center-right talk show host, used to interview 'leftie' news people all the time, and have the same interview.  

 

Q: What's your personal politics?  A: I have none, or it's not relevant.

 

Q: Everyone has a bias, and human nature means it colors their work.  Admitting it is fine, it allows people to understand the leaning of the product.  A: Claim to be objective and transparent.

 

Q: Viewers/readers are like golfers.  They're able to measure the wind and hit the ball accordingly, even if the wind doesn't admit it's blowing.  Who did you vote for in the last presidential election?  A: Further defending objectivity, avoidance or flat out refusal to answer.

 

Q: Do you own a gun?  Have you ever gone hunting?  Do you support a woman's right to choose to have an abortion? Was Alger Hiss a communist?  [Asks 4-5 more similar questions.]  A: Evasiveness, refusal to answer, or admitting to holding left-wingish beliefs but maintaining objectivity.  Younger ones don't know who Alger Hiss was.

 

Q: In your news room, is there anyone who you believe is right of center?  A: Pretty much universally answered no.

Hugh once used the 'canary in a coal mine' analogy, telling his interviewee that since he didn't have a right-winger in their news room, and they were all sick with the left wing bent, and didn't even realize it.

 

 

 

 

 

I've noticed that "look how leftwing this or that media outlet is"-type stories have been rightwing bread and butter since the advent of Rush Limbaugh.  One might think that left wing media folks would finally get around to just admitting the truth, and take this beatin' stick away from the right.  Because we're going to keep using it as long as it's scoring valid points.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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... Hugh once used the 'canary in a coal mine' analogy, telling his interviewee that since he didn't have a right-winger in their news room, and they were all sick with the left wing bent, and didn't even realize it.

 

 

I've noticed that "look how leftwing this or that media outlet is"-type stories have been rightwing bread and butter since the advent of Rush Limbaugh.  One might think that left wing media folks would finally get around to just admitting the truth, and take this beatin' stick away from the right.  Because we're going to keep using it as long as it's scoring valid points.

 

You know, similar to the way Vort in our few exchanges above remarked about not viewing either FOX News or CNN for quite some time, I don't pay much attention to talk show hosts regardless of their bent.  But I think that what you described about Hugh Hewitt is typical of what personally turns me off about them.  

 

Moreover, to think that the stories are as you call them, rightwing bread and butter, is also a turn-off for me personally.  I should think that it wouldn't be a very admirable reflection upon me if my bread-and-butter were essentially insulting my opponents.  I suppose I run the risk of coming across as preachy, but since this forum is after all an LDS outreach it seems to me that one would want to eschew that kind of behavior in an effort to emulate the Best (even with regard to politics).  I don't mean this personally, so please don't misunderstand me.   :)  

Edited by UT.starscoper

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Moreover, to think that the stories are as you call them, rightwing bread and butter, is also a turn-off for me personally.  I should think that it wouldn't be a very admirable reflection upon me if my bread-and-butter were essentially insulting my opponents. 

 

 

 

Identifying a denied bias, over and over again = insulting someone?

 

I mean, I get what you're saying about being turned off by partisan news sources, but I don't get this "insulting" claim. Maybe 'beatin' stick' isn't the correct term to use...

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