Sunday, June 8, 2008

Newspapers: A Dying Breed, April 16, 2006

SOME OF MY EARLIEST MEMORIES ARE of reading the newspaper with my dad on a Sunday morning. You might say that this is where my love for reading and writing first took hold. In those days, journalist used their words to craft a story that, if you closed your eyes, you could see in your mind as clearly as if it were unfolding in front of you. Even simple articles were articulated in a way that made you read every word. Back then you never saw an article that included the writers opinion, thoughts, or commentary used in order to guide readers in a direction that would cause them to walk away with an slanted opinion about the story.

Today, newspaper writers, editors, and publishers have moved away from the "JUST THE FACTS" style in favor of highly biased style of writing that way too often includes writers opinions, half-truths, and details that are rarely vetted the way one would expect before being printed. By printing this type of material, newspaper publishers are driving away longtime loyal readers who for years have included newspapers as an important part of their daily lives. Those readers have come to realize that they are reading nothing more than some twenty something college grads view of reality......or more acurately, a view of the desired reality. Why pay for that when you can get it for free at the barbershop, hair salon, or corner coffee shop.

More importantly though, this new breed of journalist and their "tainted journalism" (as I like to call it) is doing nothing more than teaching a new generation of Americans that it's ok to play fast and loose with the fact and that it's ok to bend the truth in order to achieve a perceived better good. How do you fight this kind of tainted journalism? There are a number of ways to fight back, but the way that a huge number of Americans have chosen is to simply not read. According to a study release in June of 2005, national newspapers (IE: the NY Times, the LA Times, and USA Today) favorability ratings dropped 13 percent. It's no suprise that subscription numbers paralleled that drop.

There is another option though. When I read the paper with my son and I spot a story that is obviously tainted with more than just the facts....I point it out to my son and try to teach him that not everything you read in newspapers is always entirely acurate and how to tell the difference between opinion and truth. I think it's important to teach our kids that in the "news business" (and I include radio and television in this too) there are journalist that are all too eager and willing to abuse the trust given them by the public in order to push a personal agenda.

It would be a shame to see traditions like families sharing the "Sunday Paper" come to an end because of this new breed of journalism. But that's where were eventually headed unless true jouranlist and newspaper publishers sep up to the plate and bring back the glory days of print journalism. The days when people could actually trust the written word instead of wondering about whether they're reading the truth or someones hidden agenda.

Where do you get most of your news? (closed poll)
Newspapers 0
Internet 9
National Radio 0
Local Radio 1
National/Cable TV 2
Local TV 1
(originally posted 4-16-06 on Yahoo 360)
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