Are You Smarter Than a Broadcast Journalist?

If you’re reading this, I know at least two things about you. First, you can read. Second, you have internet access.

i support the liberal agenda

as seen at Target

Another thing I know is that you’re smart. Very smart.

You can think for yourself. You don’t need someone to tell you what the definition of “is” is. You don’t want to be introduced to more spin-doctored phraseology, conspiracy theories, and opinions, all paraded as facts on network, radio, and 24-hour cable news.

Whether liberal or conservative, you know what you believe and what’s important to you. Sadly, you realize your values and experiences are insignificant to the experts in the media.

You may, like the majority of Americans, distrust the media.

Last month, Gallup reported 60 percent of Americans say they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. That’s a new record high. And more perceive media bias to be liberal than conservative.

Now before you media mavens get your AP Stylebooks in an uproar, let me state I believe there are good, talented, honest journalists out there who do their best to be true to the craft. They respect the intelligence of their readers enough to go to the extra trouble of checking their biases at the door.

Back in the day when I was in journalism school, the powers that be insisted the media was unbiased. Today the powers that be not only admit media bias exists, they embrace it. The pendulum has swung from denial to excess. Consider this from a story in Mashable last month about the loosening of journalists’ social media etiquette :

“If you asked me two years ago, I would [have] said, ‘No, a journalist should not have an opinion on Twitter,’ ” said Niketa Patel, social media product manager for CNNMoney. But now her thinking has changed. “We are humans, too. We do have opinions. I think as long as you’re not controversial about it, or you’re not overly trying to make a statement, then I think it’s OK…to have somewhat of an opinion,” she said.

For Liz Heron, social media director at The Wall Street Journal, journalists are at their best on social media when they offer analysis and context instead of just the straight story.

i heart mitt

as seen at Target

What? Who said we want journalists to offer anything but the straight story? Are we more concerned with the reporter’s need to express his or her personal narrative than with the audience’s need for facts?

That’s not news reporting. That’s opinion-editorial. That’s creative nonfiction. That’s celebrity in the making. That’s personal blogging!

If you’re still reading this (God love you), I know you care about our country and the upcoming election. You’re concerned. You may even be afraid.

You want to be informed, watch the debates, that sort of thing. But politics can get so mean-spirited and ugly. When you try to keep up with the election news, you end up more discouraged.

Take heart. Embrace your power as a media literate citizen. 

Watch the presidential debate tomorrow night. But watch in a forum free of the biased reporting and analysis that often passes for journalism these days.

large American flag

Old Glory

C-SPAN will air the debates without interruption. Watch the first debate tomorrow live at 9 p.m. EST or re-aired at 11:30 p.m., 2 a.m., 4 a.m., and 5:30 a.m. Or watch it livestreaming online at C-SPAN’s Campaign 2012 Debate Hub.

PBS is another good option. Both C-SPAN and PBS offer analysis before and after the debates, but you’re less likely to see superstar journalists talk over the coverage or break in to narrate like we saw on other channels during the conventions.

Watch the debates free of outside opinion, so you have a chance to form the one opinion that matters first—your own.

He changes times and seasons;
He deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21 NIV

More new music today: The Wallflowers and Reboot the Mission from their album Glad All Over available in stores today. How’s that for timing?

Do you believe media bias exists? What are your plans for watching the debates?

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8 Comments

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8 Responses to Are You Smarter Than a Broadcast Journalist?

  1. I absolutely believe media bias exists. I probably won’t watch the debates at all, to be honest. I cringe when I hear the acrimony with which politicians take pot shots at one another; I lose heart when I hear answers that don’t answer anything and don’t seem related to life as I know it.
    I would like to be an informed citizen, and I do try, but there is only so much I can take. :(

    • Aimee

      I can relate, Anita. If you already know how you’re going to vote, then you’re excused from watching. But if there’s any doubt, don’t give up! We found watching the conventions on CSPAN was an entirely different experience than watching them on the networks or cable news. We’re hoping the same holds true for the debates. Another media literacy strategy that’s helpful to me is to talk back to the TV. They can’t hear me, I know, but it helps me to think out loud, process, and analyze what they’re trying to spoon-feed me. I don’t feel like such a passive, helpless sponge.

  2. AAAAMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I feel better now…thanks!

  3. Nicely written – important to have had it said. And yes, I am smarter than the accumulated mental power of every main stream media talking head. Multiply their IQ by 4, and I still have them by about 27 points. But that is neither here nor there. I should know…..

    I pay no attention to television, and I am careful what I listen to, and what I read. I used the word “pay” with purpose. It costs me my time, and frankly, trimming my toe nails needs to be done more often than watching TV.

    YOU have more value in your blog – this is in part because you 1) appreciate the difference between opinion and “journalism” and 2) you have shown that you link the integrity of your data with your personal integrity.

    Excellent.

    • Aimee

      Thanks, Roy. I didn’t mean to imply broadcast journalists are not smart. Many are very sharp professionals. It’s just that the viewers are smart, too. Sometimes I feel like the media forget that, and the viewers accept being talked down to as the way things are supposed to be. We need information in order to make wise decisions. I find it tragic we have to sift through reporting to find facts when that used to be the mission of journalist.

  4. Completely agree – we need to be informed, not told how to think. Love your site. I also know how I am voting in the election, but will be watching the debates. Mainly to see how awful the spin is after though :)

    • Aimee

      Thanks, D. That’s another way to watch the debates and coverage–for sport! But only if you already know how you will vote and why.