THE SPECTATOR: JOURNALISM IS DISAPPEARING

  

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.

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18 Comments

  1. The truth is always somewhere in the middle, all that we have witnessed the last four years is the extremes. A lot of perpetuated information is actually propaganda, from the far left and far right. The Moderates spoke in this election, loud and clear! Of the people, by the people, and for the people. I always listen to all sides, then I usually find the middle ground. A lot of us, in the Moderate section are perplexed by the vitriolic
    nature this country has assumed. May we find our common ground, for the common good!

  2. If one wants to know why the Christmas parade was canceled one should ask the city and not speculate an article was to blame.

    1. I’m sorry that is what you got out of reading my editorial. That was not the point I was trying to make.

  3. You are so right my friend. The so called liberal news media has torn our country apart. They have mislead so many people and hurt many friendships and family relations. Even some of my favorite TV shows have brought in such liberal content into the new shows this season. TV news is disgusting. You can read into their comments the liberal beliefs. Thank you KWHI and you my friend.

  4. well said and thank you for voicing what so many of us are seeing as well. It is no wonder then why our local paper is on the decline

  5. I have a respectful disagreement with the entire premise of this piece. This idea that the press needs to return to the glory days of being non partisan and “just provide facts” is an idea that is not based on any objective reality, historically or otherwise. For most of U.S. history, the press has been openly partisan. During the early years of the republic, newspapers served as mouthpieces for the emerging parties and openly declared their allegiance to political factions, candidates, or politicians. The point is, there are no glory days to go back to and if there was a period of non-partisan press (perhaps the era of Walter Cronkite coming into our living rooms) it is probably best not to view it as a historical norm. Also, the idea that the press should provide “both sides” or “be evenhanded” does have some dangers. Most notably it leads to media organizations giving equal credence to things that do not deserve it. It’s like if you have a story on 9/11, just to be non-partisan you must have a 9/11 truther on. Those two things are not equal and one should not be given airtime along with the other.

    There is also a negative connotation with bias that is not warranted. Bias does not mean incorrect. Every person has a perspective which leads to some form of bias. There is no such thing as anyone, media or otherwise, or any information that is completely free of bias. The problem that Americans have today (personal opinion) is that we don’t know how to handle bias. Instead of looking for the gold standard of non-bias media, perhaps we should recognize that there is no such thing and learn how to handle it, scrutinize it, fact check it, and become responsible for our own consumption of media.

    To me that would be a better exercise than searching in vain for an idea that never has and never will exist.

  6. SO VERY TRUE!!!! I don’t even watch any news on TV anymore it is too exaggerated and most times not true. I think we
    are all smart enough to figure things out on our own rather than to have some opinion shoved down our throat or implanted in our
    brain.
    I choose to believe the world is a good place and not all people are out of control, the news media is out of control. Some people just
    thrive on chaos.

    Thank you for sharing I hope a lot of people take time to read your words and come back to reality.

  7. Yes, spectator, it is like the very popular super market tabloids on steroids. Opinions belong on the editorial page, a balanced one please. Do we see a local opinion page written by a left leaning local each week in the local paper? No, but we do see more than for the right leaning side.
    The numerous regional media monopolies have been created for propaganda type opinions as a substitute for news. I too, want just the news, but “all” of it please, no matter if the majority of regular advertisers like it or not. Because that too, can be taken as opinion thru elimination. As an example, We should have seen on KWHI a story yesterday or at the latest today, that VP Joseph Biden ( with photo) has been certified as our president elect.

    1. Moderate Senior reader….KWHI normally covers only local, area and state news. If we venture into national news, we usually try to find a local angle.

      1. On Jan. 19, 2017, you published an article announcing that KWHI would cover President elect Donald Trumps inauguration live.

        On Sept, 3rd 2015, KWHI published an article concerning national candidate Donald Trumps pledge of loyalty to the Republican Party.

        And those two items are National news, especially live coverage of a national inauguration.

  8. I fully agree.
    I did also notice the opinion leaning stories that have come from the Banner as of late.
    It seems like these new reporters are learning this in College?
    I hope they can stick to the facts and keep the opinions out, unless it is an opinion piece.
    Maybe this article will help them see how their stories read to the general subscription paying readers.

  9. Once again very well said Tom. I have always enjoyed your family’s Spectator articles!!

  10. Well said!! Our local paper also likes to contribute to the sensationalism of COVID by keeping the running “ticker” at the top of the front page. Because opinions and agendas have been interjected into journalism and reporting, more people than ever have a distrust of the news. This makes it very difficult for honest, accurate, and factual journalism and reporting to be heard.

  11. Wholeheartedly agree. This gives freedom of the press a whole new meaning with an entire newspaper being editorialized information. With artificial intelligence and “deep fake” videos it will only get worse. We won’t even be able to watch a video without questioning if it’s real. There are very few sources from which one can find facts that are reliable and presented in an unbiased way. Even fact checking can be one sided. Unfortunately the facts alone can be perceived as boring these days. We crave sensationalism. Hopefully accountability and the free market will even things out on a local basis so that if fact basis articles are being presented with bias, subscribers will simply “unsubscribe”. Readers and viewers CAN have the last word.

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