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Trouble in the News Industry

Ink Splatters

 

February 20, 2020



You might have heard that the company that owns the Centre Daily Times, of State College, Pa., has filed for a reorganization bankruptcy.

The Centre Daily Times is owned by the McClatchy Company. According to wikipedia.com, McClatchy is an American publishing company based in Sacramento, Calif., and incorporated in Delaware.

It operates 29 daily newspapers in fourteen states and has an average weekday circulation of 1.6 million and Sunday circulation of 2.4 million.[1] In 2006, it purchased Knight Ridder, which at the time was the second-largest newspaper company in the United States. Gannett was and remains the largest. (Source: wikipedia.org)

Who cares?

Why should you care? Well, when the Founding Fathers designed our nation’s democracy, they intentionally provided a specific place for the news media. The First Amendment makes it clear that the news media is to be independent from government, so there’s a trusted source telling the people of the nation what’s going on.

Many people think or suspect that the news media is funded by or supported by the government. That’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous. If the government had the ability to control the news media by cutting (or increasing) its funding, could you trust anything that was reported?

No, in America, the Founding Fathers were wise and made it clear that the news media was to stand a perpetual watch over government and report on its actions.

These days, some people are suspicious of the news media and accuse it of bias. I don’t dispute this. The news media is an invention of human beings and is therefore imperfect. However, let’s be clear: News that you don’t like is not false or fake or biased. It’s just news that you don’t like.

Every day, the United States news media provides a tremendous volume of information to the American public. Very nearly all of that information is accurate and factual. When honest and legitimate news organizations make a mistake, the admit it and make sure that the information is corrected.

Where is the truth?

Many Americans have latched onto one news source which they pay attention to almost exclusively and then reject all other sources as biased or fake. For example, some people pay attention to nothing but Fox News while others choose CNN.

I would urge anyone seeking the truth to do two important things:

1. Expand the number of news sources that you pay attention to, and

2. Be sure that you are separating fact from opinion.

I am old enough to remember when news sources were limited to newspapers, three television networks and a few radio stations. That was it. Today, you have hundreds of choices. The problem is that back when Walter Cronkite read the news to my parents, he was sticking to the facts. These days, there are a lot more news sources but many of them do not stick close to the facts. Many of them mix opinion with fact. Some of them even just make stuff up. Most of them don’t tell you when they’re doing something other than factual reporting.

It takes work

So how can you tell? Well, if you really what to find the truth, you’re going to have to do a little work. Like anything else in life, obtaining something of value doesn’t come free.

1. Consult multiple sources regarding the same story. If the same facts and points are repeated in more than one story, then it’s more likely to be factual.

2. Find out who the author is and look him or her up online. Is the writer a professional reporter or a professional public relations person? What is the writer’s background? Who signs his/her paycheck? That will tell you a lot about the writer’s biases.

3. Last, don’t let anyone inside your head who you don’t want to be there. Any article using inflammatory language, calling names or telling you want to think about a political issue is not providing news. That person is providing opinion. If you’re seeking facts, then you should skip over the opinions and seek articles in which the writer has left his or her opinions at home.

Once you find a few good news sources and good writers, stick with them. Return there often. Be aware that if you’re only reading one or two news sources and both of them come from the same side of the political spectrum, then what you are getting is spin and propaganda, not news.

To find the truth, you should be reading a half-dozen news sources, and seeking out some from the other side of the political spectrum. Yes, some of what you read you might disagree with, but you might also be surprised by what the other guys are saying and thinking.

Back to the Herald

What does all of this have to do with McClatchy declaring bankruptcy?

You can’t have a democracy without a healthy news media. News has value, but it is up to us to unlock it. News media organizations do not get government money and are subject to the same business money problems as any other business.

So, if you appreciate the Herald, please support it. The Herald strives every week to be a reliable source of information about the Cove and her people and her businesses. If you support our mission, please support the Herald.

How can you do this?

1. Subscribe. We’re less than a dollar a week and we publish every week of the entire year.

2. When you see an advertisement in the Herald for something that you want, tell the seller that you saw the item in the Herald.

3. When you’ve got something to sell, sell it through the Herald.

Thanks for reading.

 

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