ComPortOne Editorials

What's wrong with the media?

Being a responsible citizen, it's important to know what is going on in the world as well as our own communities. Yet, the average citizen who relies on the local newspaper, radio and TV is at a disadvantage. How? The local newspaper slants their writing to reflect what they want to cover, how they want to cover it and is almost assured that you will share their point of view when you are finished reading their article. Coverage by local TV and radio news is sporadic at best and is also biased [however, much less than our beloved [cough, cough] Rockford Register Star].

Examples:

  • Wendy Perks Fisher, of the Rockord Area Visitors' Bureau, used the VB charge card to charge some personal expenses. True, it was against company policy and a foolish decision, however, she paid back the charges [and not when she was caught but at the time the expenses were accrued.]

    What's my point? The local news - TV and newspaper, irresponsibly stated in their headlines: Wendy Perks Fisher charges personal items on Visitor Bureau's Account - with only a small mention [if at all] that she repaid the monies, near the end of the article. If a person hadn't been informed they would have a completely different understanding of the situation and would demand the resignation and prosecution of Ms. Fisher. The media purposely smeared a person's reputation for the sake of selling a few newspapers or getting a few more viewers. Hmmm ...not unlike the Enquirer's misleading headlines.

  • The recent Republican ad with the RATS frame within it is a joke. The Democrats were suggesting it is a deliberate attempt at subliminal advertising. The Republicans said it was just an oversight; it was just the ending of the word DemocRATS. I say big deal. Even if the Republicans wanted to call the Democrats, RATS - why would it matter? I'm sure much worse things have been said by both parties. And rats is an opinion - again, big deal. Granted, it is somewhat childish and distasteful. But do the democrats really think that just because one party calls the other a name we believe it? Hmmm. and yet, they think we're intelligent enough to vote?

    What's my point? This was a stupid, no substance complaint, reminiscent of children on a playground running to the teacher to tattle on another. Why this complaint was even given airtime and newspaper space, I'll never understand. Sensationalism?! It wasn't that sensational. No, the story was exploited, to get more readers. It was a ploy by the Democrats to avoid the issues of the campaign and stir up controversy. Someone should have told them how ridiculous it would make them look by making a big deal out of so little.

  • Last year, a young boy in Machesney Park, Illinois built a treehouse. The Village of Machesney Park told him he would have to take it down because its ordinances did not allow for the treehouse to be built in the front yard. The media was all over the Village about being unfair and cruel to this boy. Frankly, if you had seen the treehouse, you would have been horrified. It was a hodge podge of junk stuck in a tree. Dangerous, you bet. Did the media neglect that fact? Yes, ...why? The story focused on the Village victimizing this young defenseless youth. The real story should have focused on an irresponsible mother allowing her son to position carpet pieces and lawn chairs precariously throughout the tree limbs. The media [radio, in this case] decided to take on this poor boy's plight and build him a fully constructed tree house.

    My point - media exploitation. Yes, they did a nice thing in building this young boy a treehouse. But they totally ignored his mother's responsibilty in making sure her son behaved in a safe manner. They totally ignored the plain ugliness of the treehouse and its effect on the neighborhood. They ignored the danger that the treehouse presented for the boy and his friends as they tried to sit in one of the lawnchairs secured only with ropes and nails. Again, tell the whole story. Both sides....

  • Local government coverage is among the worst. Articles vaguely resemble the meetings attended, causing one to wonder what meeting the reporter attended. Important statements are omitted and items of little significance are given priority. The village leaders are seldom portrayed in a negative light even when they have behaved in an obnoxious or destructive manner. Issues are glossed over unless someone in the audience points out their importance, yet often the article appearing in the newspaper will not contain any mention of the discussion. [Is it possible that the reporter is concerned about presenting positives slants on all proceedings to ensure he will be welcome at future meetings?]

    My point? If you want to know what is going on in our village, town, township, counties and cities, you have two choices - go yourself or consult someone who attends on a regular basis [that you trust.] The newspaper and other media have limited space and time, and you are only given their impression of what they considered important enough to report on. But frankly, it's not good enough to prevent sneaky politics and alliances. So it remains our [yours and mine] duty to keep our officials honest and hold them accountable for the office they hold.

The media has a responsibility to its readers/viewers to be honest and thorough. It can and almost always will take a bias point of view, but it should not omit facts that would not support their position. One can gently sway opinion without resorting to devious tactics. Opinions should be expressed in editorials not news stories.

Since the media does not meet its obligations to its viewers / readers, it is our obligation to go the extra mile and find out for ourselves the complete truth. Once we know the truth of a story or situation we can make informed decisions and base our opinions upon sound judgement.

This opinion I will share - I am tired by the inept and incomplete reporting from not only our community but our nation. Candidates and politicians can be made or destroyed by the power of the media. They accentuate the ridiculous [as in the RATS story] and ignore a good story of charcter [as in Bush telling a persistent woman he was not interested]. I wonder how many potentially great men [and women] have been slighted and therefore eliminated by the media [Alan Keyes, for one]. I wonder how many decent people have been dragged through the muck at the misuse of the power of the media. Or how many stories have been ignored [like the unfair boycott against the Boy Scouts.] Did the news media present the other side of Hate Crimes Legislation? Do they present the complete information on death row inmates? How often do they give the victims equal coverage? Do they try to solve problems or only capitalize on them? Do they present both sides of the issues they report. No, I don't think so. There is so much to know. Ah... it gives one pause to think?

Listen, read and watch ....but remember the media's goal is to make money, sometimes even at the cost of ethics and fair play.

Connie Eccles, CEO of ComPortOne


Other articles by ComPortOne Editor, Connie Eccles
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