Where is the Media?
One of the basic freedoms we enjoy in this country is the freedom of speech. Part of that freedom or in addition to that freedom is the freedom of the press. We expect the press to be the watchdog for the people. Technology has advanced to a point that printed newspapers are dwindling away. Television news enjoyed a large piece of the media, but that’s dying out as well. The internet is the current growing medium that many people rely on to get their information.
Technology provides speed and accuracy in the sharing of information that we never had before. One hundred years ago when a politician made a speech a reporter with a note book showed up and took notes. Those notes were the basis of the story that was printed in a paper the next day or the next week. Today a speech is broadcast as it happens and recorded so we all get to see the words and the tone of the speech. Technology provides accuracy as well as a history. Everyone has a cell phone and most cell phones record audio and video. A quality video camera that will record audio and video for a 2 hour speech fits in the palm of a hand and has incredible quality.
One thing that I’ve noticed in recent history is that a news conference or a speech is given and I get to see it, then I get to hear or read the report that is available through the media. My direct observation provided me with a different set of facts than the media reports. Am I smarter than the reporter? Do I have better listening skills than the reporter? Do I have an opinion that differs from the reporter so his interpretation is colored by his position rather than the obligation to listen and report hat is said not what he believes?
The answer to every question listed above is yes. I am smarter than they are (and I’m not very smart so that speaks very poorly of them). I do listen carefully and I know that words mean things and I accept the words of the speaker not the words I expect them to be using. And yes I do have an opinion and I know enough not to color what I see and hear with my own opinion. I expect them to be accurate in reporting not advocating for their position.
With this technology why aren’t the members of the media acting as our watchdog. Too many politicians and candidates say one thing today and then another thing tomorrow. They have no problem saying what they think the voters want to hear instead of what they believe, because they can. Our watchdogs with all of the technology they could possibly want fail to report the facts. Public figures leave large footprints. Political and professional as well as entertainment and sports figures live their lives and leave a record of those lives.
The media should report facts, all of the facts. They should answer the questions: who, what, when, where, and, why. If they can’t determine the why, admit it and move on. The who, what, when, and where are a good enough starting point for the story. The subject of the story should be given the opportunity to answer the why anyway.
In leadership, consistency is an important quality to strive for. In politics it’s more important. Integrity depends on consistency. I want to vote for men and women of honor and integrity. When they can’t demonstrate a consistent thought process and a consistent set of standards, then I want to know that before I vote for them. I expect the media to focus on that, not to focus on allegations uncovered by the candidate’s opponents.
There is no way that any of us can go through life without having a political point of view. At work we interact with a lot of people and we can’t allow our personal political point of views to interfere in our jobs. It does provide a basis for some good lunch time discussions and arguments, as long as they stay out of our working relationships and our ability to do our jobs.
The media has failed to keep their point of view out of their ability to do their job. Their bias is overt and has a negative impact on the perception of the voters. The constant criticism and attacks that were directed toward President Bush is a big part of the low approval ratings he had while in office. The failure of the media to question the Hope and Change that President Obama campaigned on allowed many voters to believe what he promised in the campaign.
The state of the economy and the polls show that today there is a great deal of buyer’s remorse on the part of the voters who voted for President Obama. His promises didn’t add up, but the media failed to question his promises or to do the analysis on his plans. His promises are falling flat, but he had achieved most of his legislative agenda. He promised everyone that we would get everything that we want and we wouldn’t have to pay for it.
He would give us everything and it would make everything cost less. I wouldn’t believe a statement like that if my own brother promised it to me. I know there is no free lunch. If my brother said he would give me something expensive and it would cost me less than what the expensive item is worth, then I would expect that he was confused and needed to be corrected. I would ask him some questions (and it wouldn’t take too many to determine where he made his mistake) and we would both come to the same conclusion that the expensive item was going to cost what an expensive item is supposed to cost.
The sky is blue, water is wet, and politicians are lying if their lips are moving. These are facts of life, and these never change. There is never a free lunch. There is a cost and it may be hidden, but the lunch has a price, someone will pay for the free lunch.
I’m hoping starting with this election cycle that the true statement “politicians are lying if their lips are moving” will stop being such a constant truism. If it happens it will happen because of the voters who have finally had enough of incompetence and corruption in office. It will not be because of the media, our watchdogs have let us down and fail to provide the service expected of them based on the freedoms they enjoy that were established in our Bill of Rights. They are expected to provide facts and report them accurately. They may provide opinions and commentary as long as they identify it as their opinion. They have long ago lost the ability to separate fact, fantasy, and opinion.
Vote the Bums Out,