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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


The media aren't the problem...

Posted 9/08/17 (Fri)

For the past couple of years, there’s been this perception of how bad the media is; how we make up stories, we interview people who don’t actually exist and of course, the “fake news” moniker.

Having spent the past 31 years in journalism in some capacity, I had never heard of such a thing until about two years ago.

More recently, there is a growing divide of people loathing CNN or FOX depending on their political affiliation.

Looking back, CNN has always been a leader in news gathering and has done some daring things to get information to the public. Remember Wolf Blitzer in the hotel room in Baghdad when Desert Storm started?

Suddenly CNN is “fake news.” That channel was created in 1980 for cable TV systems so for 37years it has been on the cutting edge of TV journalism. All of a sudden, it’s no good and is making up stories.

If anyone really believes that, they had better take a long look in the mirror. Do you really think CNN, with tens of thousands of employees worldwide, would jeopardize its integrity with made-up news segments?

Sometimes we’ll spell a word wrong, sometimes we’ll botch a headline, once in a while, we’ll get caught off guard when on camera, but we’re human and we will make mistakes.

And, I would assume there is the good journalist, bad journalist among us. Former North Dakota editor Jon Flatland has been called a serial plagarist by the Poynter Institute. He’s a good example of a bad journalist.

By and large, however, we’re just like anybody else. We’re trying to do our jobs. We could be teachers, we could be retail clerks, we could be construction workers. Whatever the position, we work to produce a product and we receive a paycheck for said work. It isn’t as if all media in the United States suddenly became vile as some people seem to believe.

The question has to be though, just where is this rabid dislike for the media coming from just within the last couple of years? Is somebody manufacturing all this rhetoric that in and of itself is indeed false news.

There are those select people out there who insist every media are crooked; TV, radio, newspapers, Internet, it’s all lies, it’s all wrong!

OK, so if that’s the case, where do these people get their “real” news from then? People who complain about the media seem to be informed. Where are they getting their real news?

With the Internet, you can cross reference just about any story; the BBC, the CBC, Al Jazeera, Agence France Presse, Reuters, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., Mexico News Daily, RT, the Der Spiegel and the list goes on.

If you disagree with something you saw on Good Morning America, check those other sources and see  just how fake or real it is.

Remember the story going around that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. We should all know that didn’t happen. He was born in Hawaii and he has proven it time and time again. Besides, nobody is going to get into the U.S. government without the proper credentials.

The freedom of the media in a free society must remain that way. Did anyone call the Pennsylvania Gazette fake news? I’m sure Ben Franklin had his critics, but everyone knew that newspaper was paramount to the success of the 13 colonies. And so it went until two years ago.

Something or somebody is fueling this “fake news” fire and it’s spreading like wildfire. So again, I ask the question, where are these critics getting their information? I’d like to know just to know the credibility of their sources.

I would hope that at some point the Society of Professional Journalists would step in and rectify this as numerous individual news agencies should do as well.

If I made something up in this newspaper or defamed somebody, I’d lose my job and get sued. I would expect the same in any news organization, but why aren’t we hearing of this? Maybe because it isn’t happening.

How do you know it’s fake news? How is that even possible? Unless you are directly involved in an event, then neither you nor I can call it fake because we don’t really know, it’s just rhetoric. It’s the same as predicting the outcome of a football game. We really don’t know what will become history.

Imagine if we didn’t have a free press? Imagine a propaganda machine like Nazi Germany or Soviet Pravda spitting out lies to simply make the governments look good. I wonder how many people would complain about fake news then?