By LYNDON ZAITZ
There are friends and colleagues I know who do not watch TV news nor read any newspapers. Media has been so dominated by negative, divisive news that some people have turned a blind eye to anything resembling news.
Some non-news people get their information from internet sites such as Facebook, Yahoo and others. Or, they ask their friends about some big story they have heard about.
The concern with that is the real possibility—especially with local events—of getting incorrect facts and then spreading errorenous news. There are thousands of outlets and professional journalists across this country who gather news and present it with fairness, honesty and integrity. Unfortunately there are those few with big megaphones that spout off conspiracies and untruths (i.e., the massacre at Sandy Hook was a hoax).
Our president says that the news media is a enemy of the people. Unfortunately there are many people who agree with that view. It is important to remember that statements like that from the president are little more than politics. If a public official thought the press was the enemy of the people wouldn’t that officer avoid the “enemy”? That’s not the case with this president.
Neither publishers of newspapers nor producers of broadcast and cable news wake in the morning and decide to disseminate falsehoods and wrong news just to play with the American people. The people who choose to make news gathering their careers are dedicated to their profession; they work diligently to cover the news and information the public wants. At times the news is upsetting but that is no reason to question the integrity of all journalists.
This is especially true at small, community-based newspapers. As publisher of the Keizertimes it is my responsbility to assure that the news is provided without favor or foul, just the facts. As at most newspapers, our job is to report the news as it happened as well as do investigative reporting on subjects concerning Keizer. Our peers in other states have bestowed on our paper many first place awards over the years in competition with other Oregon newspapers. Last month the Keizertimes was honored with 13 awards including first place for enterprise reporting, educational coverage, lifestyle and government coverage.
The president uses a term for news he doesn’t like (a term I find offensive and will never use). As some say, you can pick your opinions but you can’t pick your facts. There is no such thing as an alternative fact—2+2=4 is a fact; 2+2 =5 is not an alternative fact, it is just flat out wrong.
In an earlier time the people who didn’t pay attention to news cited the bad news such as war abroad and crime at home. Then, as today, there are four or five positive articles for every ‘bad’ piece of news. News is in the eye of the beholder, some see it as all bad, some see it as all untruthful and some see it as indispensable.
I am with the latter. Though I must admit that the daily barrage of news coming from the nation’s capital is wearying. Even a political news junkie such as myself can feel overburdened with yet another story about an embattled official or policy. But I will remain resolute, I have to. If we all turned away from the news it could lead to some unexpected consequences. It is the press that must hold governments to task and assure that the public is informed about what their public officials are doing in their name.
Journalists separate rumor from fact. As some wise sage once said, a rumor zips around the globe before the truth gets its boots on. News is what is, rumor is what people think it is.
We in the press know the difference.
(Lyndon Zaitz is publisher of the Keizertimes.)