Truth? or Consequences?
“Fake News” seems to be a prime topic of conversation and consternation these days. It’s a hot button issue now, but I’ve been concerned about it for some time, as evidenced by the blog entry I posted some 4 years ago after Kentucky Farm Bureau graciously tapped me for their 2012 Communications Award. I was concerned about the state of the “Fourth Estate” then and my apprehension has only been amplified since then.
I’m not feigning any prescience. The handwriting was clearly on the wall then, it just wasn’t being as widely discussed as it is today.
So, I thought it appropriate to share with you. Some of the references are perhaps not as timely as they were then, but I hope you find it worth your time and consideration.
There’s a rumor going ’round that I’m a journalist. Back a few years ago, I would have been gratified to be identified as such, but with the current state of the news media, I’m not so sure. I think I’d just as soon be recognized as a storyteller.
I grew up watching the likes of Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. I’m not quite old enough to remember Edward R. Murrow, but I have studied his work as have legions of journalism students. To me, folks like that are the gold standard of the news business – not that they were perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they were skilled craftsmen with a respect for their industry.
The onslaught of negative publicity for the ag industry and the pandering, preening and posturing of the so-called mainstream media in the recent (2011) presidential campaign have soured me somewhat on the mantle of “journalist.”
ABC’s malicious and unwarranted attack on industry innovator Beef Products, Inc. and the Consumer Reports junk science stories about arsenic in rice and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in pork are but a few examples of the agenda-driven drivel that tries to pass itself off as news. I take little joy in the demise this week of the Rupert Murdock-backed new media website “The Daily,” even though they “played a key role in igniting the national media firestorm” regarding LFTB.
The shift to new media is not surprising, even though it is not without its bad apples (are you listening Huffington Post?) It’s becoming more and more difficult to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s grinding their ax or goring someone’s ox. (How’s that for colorful ag metaphors?)
I won’t even claim that you’ll be hearing totally unbiased information from me, although I try to assure that my opinions are easily identified as such.
It has become increasingly important to closely examine and weigh every piece of information as you seek to develop your own honest and balanced opinions. As more and more on-line information sources are instituting “pay walls” or paid subscriptions, try to be as certain as possible that you’re not paying someone to lie to you.