I don’t know what someone means when they say “the media.” It’s often a categorical indictment: “It’s the media’s fault.” Or, “I don’t trust the media.” And I don’t get what the fuss is about; the notion that it’s impossible these days to figure out what’s really true. No it isn’t. It’s super easy. NewYorkTimes.com. Even the free version has all the headlines. Those headlines are true.
Sure, trying to figure out what’s true from my Facebook feed or a Reddit thread or the tons of free email coming at me; yeah, it’s hard to figure out what’s true. But if I’m serious about wanting actual facts, I have easy options.
There is a line on this chart called “Fact Reporting.” Anyone above the line: we can believe what these journalists and broadcasters report to us. These corporations stake their reputation on their integrity; in competition with each other and driven by their paying customers and advertisers to maintain very high standards.
I know that the New York Times is left-leaning. They actually tell us that on their editorial pages. And the Wall Street Journal has right-leaning opinions on their editorial pages. This does not mean they tell lies in their news. The very fact that these papers separate News from Opinion is part of their integrity. And you know what, even among the opinion pages of these publications you will not find intentional mis-statements of fact.
The thing is: we don’t wants facts most of the time. We want entertainment. We process volumes of entertaining media (most of it social) and then, all by ourselves, we decide which of it to believe. It’s an age-old human behavior. We love gossip and speculation and imaging what’s true. We’re very good at it. And it’s very fun.
Yet entertaining as it might be, national governance — as it happens — is really important; maybe more important than anything. The decisions that nations make, and have made before us, determine the life or death fates of us all.
I’m encouraging us to resist the easy way — where we sit passively and get spoon fed pleasant information — even though it’s fun. That leads to actually believing the pleasant information because that’s fun too.
When it comes to something serious like debating a fellow American, take the harder way and know what you are talking about. Get your facts from mainstream credible professional media. Or here’s another idea, ask your local librarian. Did you know that these people are professionally trained to help the general public find facts? Did you know that librarians are the most trusted occupation second only to nurses?
I don’t buy that The Media are to blame or The Media are categorically untrustworthy. All kinds of media are out there filling all kinds of market niches and wanting us to believe all kinds of things. Yet at the same time there really are institutions built for the specific purpose of bringing us facts. Thank God.
10 thoughts on “The Media”
Awesome chart Craig! Thank you! Keep doing the good work and inspiring us to risk getting into “good trouble”. ~ Joycie B. ☯️
Craig, I used to agree completely with you about the NYT until COVID. The NYT is in my humble opinion represents mainstream left. I say this as a lifelong registered Democrat. A year or so ago the respected science writer wrote an editorial that came off as factual that completely dismissed the extensive science that wireless tech is indeed harmful. What the NYT says matters and what Broad did was shear propaganda, the kind the FCC supported Telecom companies have come to love and expect. When it comes to COVID, I’ve been appalled at the self-righteous arrogance of the left which seems to truly believe it’s just as correct as those on the right do. The LEFT leaning media, which includes the NYT and NPR, take whatever stance is opposite to the right. There are many good sources of truly deep investigative journalism. The NYT is typically late to the game and will eventually run a story when it’s been exposed often by small outfits.
Sorry to say, Craig, but the graph is extremely faulty. Virtually all national established media runs on advertising dollars generated by petroleum products. This means criticism, of multinational corporations who make and package their products with petroleum-based products like plastics, or on machinery that runs on fossil-fuels, is soft-shoed right off the bat, as is any islamic aggression, because Saudis held the control of oil for so long, and it funds that terrorism. They silence international criticism with their purchasing choices, as in the case of France’s silence in the days of western sanctions on Iran because of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
87% of armed conflict worldwide involves muslims. We could have WORLD PEACE in a day if they would stop following jihaadist texts that tell them to force totalitarian control on their enemies (dhimmitude), lie to their enemies to trick and enslave them (taqiyah), and the host of vile sexual behaviors sanctioned by the k’ran, that force people to fight back to save their sons and daughters from rape and slavery. The human trafficking problem in our country is in great part a problem fostered by the middle east. That’s not me being racist. It’s historical fact. Why don’t the major networks and CNN/MSNBC or even NPR EVER talk about the young female college students who are encouraged to do internships in Israel, in Palestinian communities, to teach feminism, that DISAPPEAR never to be found?
And the chart itself is slanderous. On the liberal side, well, it’s “inaccurate and fabricated info”, but on the right it’s “nonsense, damaging to public discourse”. Well, my dear, SORRY but that’s opinion! That’s deliberate mischaracterization based on bias. I would apply that tone to the left as well as the Alex Jones types on the right.
And OAN doesn’t say much. Like C-SPAN, they pull up and film and let the chips fall. They kind of, you know, let the people actually SPEAKING at these events they cover do the work for themselves, so you can hardly say they’re more unfair than the major networks. CBS, ABC, and NBC have talking heads opinionating over top of national events! I have been so disgusted with coverage of things lately. The president will be talking, hell, even getting inaugurated, and those stupid newscasters are in the foreground TALKING and OPINIONATING WHILE THE PRESIDENT or the current speaker is trying to give their speech. It’s infuriating.
Sorry, but the chart is very badly done. I’ve been at events seen on TV, and been nearly always disappointed by the coverage on the boob tube. They are factually inaccurate (don’t even TRY to find out why people are there at demonstrations on issues – they make their own version), or they only put up interviews with the dumbest people they can find in the group to fit their bias. It’s really irritating.
But I love you, love your work, and your attempts to get us all talking. It’s the most important work going on right now and I fully support you!
Patty: I found your response thoughtful and passionate. Thank you for taking time to share. I think you may have misread the lower portion of the chart, though. The label that reads, “nonsense, damaging to public discourse” is referring to every source in the red rectangle – those on the left and the right. And the label on the lower left that reads, “inaccurate and fabricated info” refers to all sources in that area across the illustration.
I, too, get VERY annoyed when some ‘reporter’ talks over the speaker to tell me what the speaker is saying! It is harder and harder to find news sources that don’t do this habitually.
I consider myself more liberal than conservative, but even I find reporting on NPR to be overtly liberally biased nearly daily.
Craig – thank you for challenging us to THINK; we are all better for it!
Interesting that all the “factual” media according to the list are all left or far left. I find that all media is biased and that it is important to read many views.
Thanks for this, Craig! It’s important to remind people that journalism as a profession has a code of ethics, and that facts, sources, confirmation, and research are all part of that code. It’s easy to impersonate a real news organization without being one. For this reason, I’ve thought it might be helpful and necessary to label opinion-based media organizations with a warning label like cigarette packing earned after it became clear they were not a benign form of entertainment. Or failing that, a standard by which a media company can call its product “news.” This is THE discussion of our times. I’m grateful you were plain-speaking about it.
Thanks for your comment, Karen. And just a clarification because it’s often misunderstood. Freedom of speech does not mean every Americans is free to say whatever they want wherever they want without consequences, it just means that the government is not allowed to punish you or prevent you from speaking freely.
This is a very helpful article! Our family has experienced a rift due to this whole question of truth and freedom of speech. A couple of us within the family are trying to explore ways we can help mend or at least shrink the size of the rift.
Karen, your family is but one of many with that problem these days. Trump provoked a great deal of dissension at every level of our society by deliberately distorting truth into what Kellyanne Conway coined “alternative facts” more acceptable to Trump and his cult. Several members of my own family, holding firmly to their belief that almost all trustworthy media reporting is “fake news”, are not speaking to the rest of the family, including me, because we dared to challenge their belief that Trump was worthy of his seat in the Oval Office. Trump has been and will continue to be divisive in every sense of the word. Hopefully, he will be held accountable for the divisiveness that led to the January 6 insurrection and is appropriately punished for instigating that violent, self-serving, unconscionable, amoral, and historically unprecedented attack on American democracy by Americans. Only then can we begin discussing unity and eventually a return to some sense of normalcy.
Jerry, there’s no laws against people saying things you don’t like. It’s your choice to be divisive. It’s your choice to believe malicious gossip and attack people you don’t even know. You need to recognize that you can disagree but not hate people for being different, or having life experiences unlike your own that give them a different perspective. You should listen to folks that differ from you, ask WHY they think that way, and you might learn something useful that will protect you from harm in the future. But there’s no