August 26, 2020
Our friend and your friend Joe McKeever (pastor, author, cartoonist) joked in a recent Facebook post about a headline from the Weather Channel. It read: “NYC can expect to see wind gusts up to 70 mph.”
Joe responded, “Those things are hard to see. Someone have a camera ready.”
From there came comments that eventually led to a discussion about how news headlines are written and how they have changed through the years.
One responder wrote: “I like concise news broadcasts like Walter Cronkite used to give.”
Another added: “With no bias!”
And a third wrote: “Exactly! Or a panel full of ‘opinions’!”
I enjoyed following this conversation thread because those comments give me hope that all is not lost on a potential renewed demand for true news reporting in its purest state.
I believe it truly is possible to report straightforward facts, be fair in the presentation and trust people to handle the information responsibly. And I have to believe the true news reporters out there would love to find that opportunity again.
While it may be an uphill battle, a grassroots effort by the masses is the impetus needed to demand it.
The way for the demand to be heard is to refuse to watch, listen to or click on any information source claiming to be news that does not own — upfront — a particular bias or agenda before sharing the side of the story they choose to report.
Reporting a side of a story not covered by other sources in and of itself can be helpful as long as the information is factual and in proper context — and the consumer understands what is happening.
The problem comes when a particular report is touted as having all the facts while claiming other sources are untruthful, when it could be that other sources are merely reporting another aspect of the same story.
Reading and listening to various sources report the same story provides a better balance to fully understand more about all parts of what is happening.
Still, it would be nice not to have to work so hard to comprehend the latest headlines.
It would be nice to experience retro-style, straightforward news reporting again, like Walter Cronkite, as the Facebook responder noted.
However, no matter what we say we want, as long as we click on headlines that appeal to our bias or intrigue us with drama and as long as we listen to hours and hours of so-called expert panelists debate and discuss the latest political drama, we don’t have a chance at rediscovering a pure form of news reporting.
When it comes down to it, those responsible for outlining the types and styles of stories covered aren’t necessarily journalists but business people. They watch the analytics to make their decisions.
So while we may be frustrated by the way information is shared today, we are actually the ones who are telling the decision makers what we want.