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Welcome to my blog where I will post commentary on issues ranging from fiction to public policy. Tucked away in the Idea Boxes are “how to” tips on a variety of projects that have become part of our family’s culture over the years. I hope you’ll find some useful ideas there. My blog will take you through the fantastic journey of writing fiction, as well as the decisions I will be making about publication of my first novel One Summer in Arkansas. Thanks for your interest.

Monday, September 12, 2016

If Mother Teresa Ran against Hitler for Congress...



I am deeply disappointed in the way the media is covering the U.S. presidential election and in their abdication of responsibility to instill critical thinking into the political process.

There are two problems at the root of our media’s role in the deterioration of the electoral process and ultimately of democracy itself.  The first rests at the foot of the colleges and graduate schools who teach ethics in journalism.  The second is a by-product of a capitalistic economy run amok.

Today’s newspaper reporters and television producers have been indoctrinated with an odd theory relating to a journalist’s responsibility to present news without personal bias.  The method being taught directs the journalist to give equal time and credibility to each side of every issue and to every political candidate.  And since the media apparently cannot afford their own research on complicated issues, they meet this requirement by bringing in two partisans representing each extreme side of the issue and letting them go at it, each making full-throated arguments for their particular self-interested view of the world, without any kind of screening by the anchor or producer.

If Mother Teresa were running against Adolf Hitler for Congress, for example, you’d bring in a Catholic nun (who, in addition to her seminary credentials, holds a law degree from Harvard), on one side, to argue against, say, Joseph Goebbels on the other.  They would each get equal time and equal respect and nobody would try to interpret what they said.

Whoever thought this up, what on earth made you think anything useful to public understanding of complicated issues could come out of it?

The second cause of the pathetic state of critical thinking among the American electorate is the single-minded profit-driven focus of television news (and, to a lesser degree, every other source of political news) to make everything a controversy, blowing up every molehill into a mountain, keeping viewers glued to the channel no matter how ridiculous the overplay of conflict and chaos.  I first figured this out when I would check the weather channel before going somewhere, packing in anticipation of hurricane and tidal wave, only to find sunshine when I arrived.  You may think one channel or another is excessively biased, and while it’s true most of them are trying to attract a particular base, the truth is they all want to see a close race.   The only loyalty these guys have is to their quarterly profit. 

Is anybody surprised that so many of our citizens are conspiracy-theorists who believe anything they hear on talk radio?

These two candidates for president are nowhere near comparable in their capability to serve the nation and it just makes me heart-sick that the citizens of this once-great democracy no longer have access to the necessary education or to a public-interested news source to help them understand what’s going on.

1 comment:

  1. You make two very good points, Marcia. it's difficult to sit through the boisterous discussion, each 'expert' talking over the other, to get any substance of value from the news program. Walter Cronkite would not be pleased with the current state of the entire process.

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