What has happened to my profession? Journalism is disappearing in our country, being replaced by opinions. When I was taught journalism, it was all about the five “w’s” and one “h”. When you wrote a news story, you wrote about “Who was involved”, “What happened”, “When did it happen”, “Where did it happen”, “Why did it happen”, and “How did it happen.” Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. The author did not add his or her opinion about the news event. The author did not use adjectives to make one side or the other in the story look better or worse. You could quote officials and witnesses to an event in your reporting, but you didn’t interject your own opinion into the article. You stuck to facts and quotes.
Wow, how that has changed! It started with the TV networks as they chose sides in our country’s politics. It’s one thing to cover certain stories that fit your narrative…but to blatantly change the way things are described is just plain wrong. In 2016 a certain network described Mount Rushmore as “a monument to four great American presidents”. In 2020, the same network described it as “a monument of two slave owners on land wrestled away from Native Americans”.
A few days after our Presidential election, a reporter wrote that “a remarkably small number of Republicans called for the country to move on”. Saying a small number is fine…”remarkably” small number is adding the reporter’s own opinion. The examples of this are everywhere. In a story about the social media companies, a reporter said “The Democrats want the social media companies to do more to control disinformation, and Republicans say, with little evidence, the sites unfairly suppress conservative views”. As a reporter, you just can’t say “with little evidence”. You can quote someone else saying that, but you can’t just add it to the story by yourself.
We’ve always known that most of our national media are left leaning. Unfortunately liberalism has found its way into our local newspaper. A recent headline screamed “Local officials fear Halloween could become super-spreader horror show”. I thought “Oh my God! We just interviewed local officials two days prior to that about how to stay safe for Halloween…and they didn’t say anything like that.” When I read the article there was no mention whatsoever about a “super-spreader horror show”. In a recent article by the same two local writers, they said that community spread is a factor after a string of events including “Hot Nights, Cool Tunes” and “The Texas Arts & Music Festival”. Although those events were long before Washington County began showing signs of increased Covid-19 cases, the writers chose to include them. No official made such a statement…but it made for a good story. And with writing like that, it’s no wonder our City officials cancelled the Christmas parade.
Opinions should be reserved for the entertainment shows on network TV, and the editorial page of a newspaper. Our local newspaper editor recently wrote in an editorial, that “if you hold a huge family feast, he won’t have much sympathy if you and your family members get sick and end up in the hospital.” Quite a harsh statement for our local newspaper editor to make, but at least it was his opinion, and it was published on the editorial page.
Unfortunately I don’t see young journalists going back to just “who, what, when, where, why and how”. Sensationalism is what they see and read every day, spewed by those they aspire to be. And don’t get me started about what they are taught in college.
That’s my opinion…and that’s the way it looks to this Spectator.