Things have certainly changed since I was a child, when one could listen to the radio, or watch a grand total of three television stations for an evening news report. Now we are inundated with news and pseudo-news programs from dozens of channels, day and night. With satellites and the internet, small local incidents can be publicized around the globe in mere moments.
But how much of it is news? How much of this constant flow of information is factual and unbiased? I cannot say if David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite were trustworthy, as I was too young to understand the issues. But I can say that what I see today is terribly slanted, biased and frequently not even based on facts.
I had my first education in modern mainstream media when I worked as a firefighter/EMT/dispatcher a couple of decades ago. I would work an accident or fire incident and then later see a newscast that completely missed all the facts of the case. At first it seemed a bit of a joke, but as it continued it became a source of cynicism. I don't know why the reporters bothered to drive out to the site, their stories could easily have been made up in the office. And the tricks they would use were disgusting, including impersonating doctors to get information about a victim's condition, up to actually crawling into a bloody wrecked car to videotape the body of a teenaged victim. Nothing was too low for them.
I've learned to listen closely to the words, when watching the news. If one pays attention, one can easily see the liberal bias, alarmist slant, or self-serving perspective in virtually all of the mainstream media. It's a shame that they are seen as representative of what's happening in our country, because they focus only on the negative, and what they can sensationalize. Take for example, the recent controversy surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin. According to the media, the boy was a saint, gunned down in cold blood by a vigilante wannabe only because he was black. Perhaps he was, I don't know, but I doubt that we have all the facts. The man who allegedly killed him has already been tried and convicted by the media, who conveniently edited the 911 tape so that it supported their position. They call it a white racist crime, conveniently ignoring the fact that the shooter is hispanic. The boy's death is a senseless tragedy, to be sure, but why has it become a national cause spawning sweatshirt sales? Even the current Pretender in the White House jumped on the bandwagon, stating "if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon". Well, that's a given. But what about the hundreds of young black men that are murdered every year? Aren't they equally as tragic? Would they not look like his son too? Or are they not worthy of the tremendous attention, because the shooters were also black, so there's no 'racist' story to exploit?
I say this is another case of the irresponsible news media seeing a tragic event as something they can capitalize on in the ongoing effort to be the loudest, most sensationalized, most controversial news show. Facts won't stand in the way of ratings and the value of a life won't measure up against advertising dollars. I believe my cynicism is well founded.
Nowadays I tune in the evening news only for the local weather report. To learn what's going on in the world I read several different sources online, and in local papers, and then make my own decisions and draw my own conclusions. But then again, I'm just an independent ornery sort of woman, anyways!