Friday, February 27, 2009

News - what a sham

This is not my usual BFA blog. This has little to do with travel or homeschooling or live on the farm. I feel like ranting today, so I'm going to. If you don't want to hear me bitch er...complain about media coverage or recent news COVERED, stop right here.

OK, I'll say it: It's getting REALLY tough to read the local paper, watch news on television or listen to it on the radio. It's not just the focus on the depressing, bad news that is ever so easy to find, but the poor coverage, the abuse of statistics, and, OK, yes. Terrible spelling and grammar.

GO ahead. Page back through my blogs. SURE I've made spelling AND grammar mistakes, but THIS IS A BLOG! This blog is not edited, may not even be written by a true writer, may not even be researched. But it is a BLOG. You don't depend upon it for news, let alone accuracy.

I depend upon media for both, though I should know better. (What can I say, I'm an optimist.)

Take today's front-page headline, "U.S. jobless claims top 5 million" with subhead "Number highest in nation since record-keeping began." Seriously. Can we not see straight through this? The POPULATION is also the highest since record-keeping began. So what we need here is a comparison of apples to apples. What percentage of the population is jobless? We also need to know WHY we're jobless - I choose to be jobless, so I don't count in the stats focused on panic. This was an Associated Press story - I expect more. (But then, I suppose my expectations are just what gets me in trouble.)

Move on to local news, a story entitled "New rainwater guidelines rile city." Now, wouldn't you think that somewhere HIGH in the story they'd give SOME indication of WHAT those guidelines are? NOPE. Not until 13 'graphs into the story does the reporter shed any light on the details that are leading the city to threaten legal action.

And the story above that? A nice little feature story about a talent show given by students at the area's alternative high school. But, I'm confused. First it states that about 30 students "showed off their art, music and pottery skills." Five 'graphs later the story states, "About a dozen students performed or submitted paintings or other art projects." Well...which is it? If the reporter can't get the basics right, how do I know any of the rest of it is accurate, or even close?

Don't even get me STARTED on television media. (As it currently exists, it should be banned. Did anyone ELSE take that ETHICS class - you know...neutrality...fairness...? Guess not.)

I know...who even notices these details? Well, I do, for one. Particularly when so many stories in a single issue confound me.

Maybe I'm getting old, losing my mind. Maybe these things make sense to everyone else. On days like this, I wonder.

I know our local paper is VERY short staffed, and doesn't have a great track record for providing editors time and resources to do their duties anyhow. Still, its really the reporter's job to work out the details, like spelling names correctly and CONSISTENTLY throughout a story. The editors are your back up, People!

Oh, and when it's not reporters' lack of ethics, knowledge of statistics (and how PR flacks use them against us) or skill, the content of today's news is enough to choke a goat.

Come on, Arnold! Do you REALLY think citizens who are losing their homes, their jobs, facing work cutbacks and rising health care costs (for those of us who still pay for our own) and other living expenses are really going to, as the AP reporter put it, "see past the higher costs...of taxes and fee increases" proposed on the special election ballot? We're still paying for countless bonds passed in recent years to fund more schools and road improvements than at any other time in my life.

Arnold et al - IF OUR HOURS ARE CUT BACK, we have LESS MONEY. If we have LESS MONEY, then we are LESS ABLE to pay INCREASED TAXES. Take it in TAXES, and we'll have less to spend at MERCHANTS so you'll lose out on your proposed INCREASED SALES TAX.

Plus, haven't we been over this before? I seem to remember some promise about not dipping into dedicated funds (like capital improvements on our deteriorating roads and bridges). Have we managed to keep that promise?

And, did you not notice that THIS type of BORROWING (and associated lending) by irresponsible parties was a driving force in creating this fiscal disaster? HELLLOOOO! And as for creating a "rainy day fund" at this juncture - you've got to be kidding. I spent my rainy day fund on my health insurance premium this month. And YOU, Lawmakers?!

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  1. Welcome to the club of media skeptics! With a one-hour-each-way commute, the radio news is my usual target. Sad to hear that print is going downhill, too. And yeah, TV "news" is beyond the pale.

  2. thank you for this! I feel exactly the same way. If I had written this I would have definitely had some misspelled words and grammar mistakes! Im glad you could get the point across and have it be grammatically correct.. ha ha ha

  3. Here, Here !!

    I agree. Beyond the topic of usless TV news, I have also noticed the samy type of typos in our semi-local newspaper. About two or three times per year, I amuse myself my "red-lining" the entire paper. I mark spelling errors, inconsistencies within a story, and the grammatical errors that I catch and then I mail the paper to back the editor with a note that people REALLY DO read the paper! And a reminder that maybe it's time to take some pride in what they do. Postage is usually a couple of bucks, but I feel better afterwards.


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