Friday, June 11, 2004

Give Us What We Need

Mass media seems to have abandoned the charge to provide the United States with news. Instead, it spends very nearly all its time trying to build yet bigger audiences. Right now, we read, see and hear constant comments about all the wonderful things President Reagan did for America and the world. Indeed, he did many good things.

On the other hand, it is increasingly customary for reporters to insert words and ideas that don't reflect the facts nearly as much as the reflect their ideas or their "corporate ideals." Two skilled writers published columns in the New York Times commenting on this problem. Paul Krugman points out information that doesn't seem to match what is being said in the media. It isn't the job of the media to rewrite history so that we can feel less pain or gain more political strength. When reporting news, its their job to give us the facts: what is happening, where is it happening, why is it happening and who is involved.

Maureen Dowd talks about the same problem in thought in her column "Epitaph and Epigone." In our grief, we must keep our balance. In our sadness at the loss of president that could bring thousands of people to unite behind ideas, we must not misrepresent either him or his achievements. Give us the facts. Then, in clearly marked areas let our columnists and others say how they feel about what is going on.

1 comment:

J Michael said...

I think perhaps it is the concept "in clearly marked areas" that frightens the masses the most. The phrase suggests propriety of content and action, accountability, or testable standards. Whatever gets you through the night is the preferred mode. Anything goes. No right answers. We want to dodge responsibility by holding irrelevant opinions firmly. For the newspapers this means needing to be all things to all people. For those who attempt to think rationally this means frustration and irritation and dialogue with monologists.