Where Does News End And Opinion Begin?
Doing radio and writing a daily blog requires a good amount of research and knowledge of current events. Since I am primarily business oriented I try to spend the bulk of my time keeping up to speed on what’s happening in the business world. Because business pretty much controls the world.
On my show I report business news but I also offer my opinions on that news. I am not a journalist, as some have accused me of being. I am an “opinionist.” The definition of that word is, “a person fond of his own opinions and of making them known.” I would say that just about fits me perfectly.
The Most Trusted Man In America
News organizations are businesses. They are there to make a profit not just report the news. As a result, whether it’s news or opinion, it must be presented in a specific way.
News anchors make ridiculous amounts of money for reading news. The reason they make that much money is because we like how they read the news and the way they’re reading it makes us feel.
For many years, CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite was, “The Most Trusted Man In America.” People tuned in for his emotional presentation of the news as much are for the content he presented. If Walter said it you could take it to the bank.
News vs. Opinion
With the advent of 24/7 news programs a new group of opinion anchors sprung up. Simply reading the news was not enough for viewers and listeners. We had to discuss the news, get various opinions on what it all means. Find that hill of facts and info we were willing to die on.
Over time we each found our “Walter Cronkite.” We searched for someone in the news business whose opinion made sense to us. Someone whose opinion we trusted to help us sort it all out.
Fraudulent News Reporting
There are several examples where the news got it wrong. Tawana Brawley, Richard Jewell, the Boston Marathon Bombing, all presented breaking news that was later proven totally false.
Although Brawley fabricated the information in her case, some scholars suggested that it was biased news reporting that adhered to racial stereotypes that victimized Brawley.
Richard Jewell was eventually exonerated of any crime but his case is considered an example of the damage that can be done by news reporting based on unreliable or incomplete information.
The Speed of Wrong
Before 24/7 news there was time to get the facts before presenting them on the six or ten o’clock news. Today, anyone who wants some face time in front of a camera can spout any erroneous facts and news outlets will air it as gospel.
Checking the accuracy and credibility of information seems to have fallen by the wayside in order to be first with the information.
Some Final Thoughts
After Walter Cronkite retired from reporting the news his obvious political views surfaced. But you never had a hint of those views during his nightly newscasts. He presented the news without including his own personal beliefs. He kept the news pure.
In today’s news outlets current talking heads don’t even pretend to hide their political or cultural bias. You only have to watch a news outlet for a few moments before you are aware of their personal stance on issues. They write the news as opinion rather than sticking to the time honored rules of reporting, “Who, What, Where, When, and How.” Is it any wonder our trust in what’s reported has waned? Do you believe news is now more opinion than fact?