It was a beautiful late summer day, so I took a walk in the park. The birds were singing, the sky was blue, everything seemed right with the world. Then I sat down on a park bench next to a chap reading a newspaper. He looked irritated.
“I don’t believe half of what I read in this newspaper, and everything is so negative,” he blurted out, throwing the newspaper in the bin next to the bench.
“I’ve lost trust in the media,” he continued, looking at me for a response.
I smiled: “It’s such a beautiful day, we don’t need any negativity today, do we?”
“That’s just the point, all there is in the papers is bad news!”
I wondered, should I get up and walk away or should I stay and say my piece. I decided to stay, since this was a topic I felt strongly about.
“Well, my friend, a great many people don’t trust the press. But, I don’t think the media cares or ever expected to be trusted.”
My bench mate pondered that statement for a minute. Then he spoke up: “In my opinion, the only thing that matters to the media is to get a “good” story, even if it is only partially true. The trouble is that people are more interested in bad news and negativity than in good news and positivity.”
“That belief might be somewhat wrong, in my opinion. If the world is to be a better place, we need more positive stuff reported. Then the public would be encouraged to have more positive attitudes and constructive thinking,” I said, taking a big breath of fresh air.
My bench mate squirmed on the hard seat. I smiled to myself, maybe the spin in the news had that affect on him.
“I realize the press has a duty to explore corruption and bad behavior, but they overdo it. Why not report more positive stories?”
“I’ll tell you why, my friend, because it is harder to write a positive piece than a negative one. More talent is required and many editors and news people seem sadly to lack such talent.”
My friend on the bench gazed at the sky and said: “Everyone yells about the news, it’s biased, it’s inaccurate, it’s manipulated, it’s full of political correctness. What we want is the “TRUTH!”
“We all want the truth, but it’s hard to get, when you don’t know what the truth is!”
“Many people respond to news stories in a dogmatic way, with a fixed viewpoint, unwilling to accept other views. And I have to admit I am guilty of this,” said my mate, reluctantly.
“I will also, make an admission. I respond to the news with a kind of “intellectual despair.”
“Well, I suspend my judgment on a article based on the idea that there is little truth out there OR that we can’t know the truth anyway, because we are told conflicting ideas and scenarios.”
My bench mate blurted out: “Sometimes I learn more about the article by reading the comments, than the article itself!”
“That’s because you are reading a cross section of views.”
“Lets get to the nitty gritty, who’s telling the truth?”
“Probably, hardly anybody, because 90% of the mass media is controlled by big corporations, who have their own self-interests and agendas.”
“So true,” my mate sighed and continued, “What about political correctness in the news?”
“Now, you’ve hit on a sore point with me…”
“Lets hear it, give it to me with both barrels,” my mate interrupted.
“Well, PC is the attitude of being very careful NOT to offend of upset any group who are believed to be at a disadvantage.”
“Give me an example,” said my mate.
“Lets say, you feel that unfettered immigration is a bad thing, the next thing you know, you are branded a “Racist.”
“Yes, you’re right, I’ve been called that before.”
“So, the news sources occupy the center ground, because it’s the safest place to be, then it is difficult to see where anyone stands.”
“Boy! All kinds of things block us from the TRUTH.”
“That’s right, PC is designed to subvert free speech, debate and reliable news coverage.”
“Well, how can we get reliable news with the TRUTH?”
“I think we have to figure out the news ourselves by practicing “critical thinking.”
“What’s that, exactly?”
“It’s analyzing the news to interpret it with caution and judgment. Don’t depend on one single source for news. As far as critical thinking goes, that is really objective analysis and evaluation of an issue.”
“Hey! I thought it was very hard or impossible to be objective, everything seems to be subjective because even the journalists look at things through their own eyes, as we all do!”
“Yes, but I’m talking about an OBJECTIVE APPROACH to interpreting what is printed or reported.”
“How do you do that?”
“First you have to gather all the evidence, then you have to know all the different views on the issue, and finally, you have to know all the facts.”
“So, to get at the “TRUTH”, you have to do an analysis of the issue.”
“Yes, if you want “TRUTH”, there is some study involved.”
‘Well, I have to go home now and watch the six o’clock news and get a headache.”
I laughed and said: “The TV people should put an aspirin commercial on right after the news!”
With that, we went our separate ways.