The Job of a Journalist and the Irony of Facebook as a News Source
If someone says to a journalist, “it’s raining outside.” And someone else says to a journalist, “it’s not raining outside.” The journalist’s job is not to say “person A says it’s raining outside” and “person B says it’s not raining outside.” The job is to open the fucking window and find out whether it’s raining outside.
I heard this on a recent podcast I was listening to and loved the analogy.
If you’re beating on the drum that the media is supposed to be inherently unbiased, you’re singing the wrong tune. Politics and news isn’t always black and white despite what some may think.
Biases have to be accounted for because sometimes one side is right and the other is wrong. Now of course we see bias on steroids with many media outlets, which of course leads to horrible takes.
I don’t even have a problem with bias though. I have a problem with not telling the truth. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive and there is a fundamental difference.
I won’t even go so far as to call everything that isn’t truth a lie necessarily. Sometimes things are angled and sometimes things are skewed. Sometimes two sides can both be rooted in truth. Getting to that point is far and few between because of people’s lack of research and accountability.
Case in point, the graphic here…
While the numbers are accurate, the story behind it is not. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted this a couple of years ago and it spread throughout social media and news networks. I will forever reference this for it being the one of the most obvious cases of spin doctoring.
What the graphic fails to show is that these numbers reflect the first year in office of these administrations, meaning there couldn’t be any real or substantial change yet. In a nutshell, this is essentially the economy under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. However, the Bush numbers are listed to Obama and the Obama numbers are listed to Trump. The numbers show July 2009 and July 2017.
That is a clear misfire of information that is designed to paint a far different picture than what actually is.
Some of the best media outlets have some degree of bias, however they still report facts.
If you are doing nothing but sharing Fox News, Daily Wire or Breitbart, I don’t ever want to hear you complain about media and bias or fake news. You need a heavy set of glasses because you obviously can’t see in front of your own nose.
If you are doing nothing but sharing things from MSNBC, CNN and Huffington Post, the same rule of glasses applies.
The other day I got called Jake Tapper by someone who refers to CNN as the commy network in a discussion about Covid. First off, I will take a page from Will McAvoy and say I am jealous of the size of his audience.
Meanwhile, scroll through this person’s timeline and it’s nothing but notorious right wing sourcing. For him to insult news coverage is not only ignorant, it’s just laughable. Unfortunately, many people fall under that same umbrella.
I have been asked on multiple occasions what news outlets I favor? While I openly share some of my favorites, I preface it with the same answer…none. Do your own research.
If you hear something, research it before formulating an opinion. Seek out the other side of the equation intentionally, even if it sounds truthful. Once you do this enough, it becomes increasingly easier to smell the bullshit when it appears.
You know how teachers in school would say to people that it was clear they didn’t do the homework or research, whether for a paper or test? Same rule applies here.
There are sources I find more reliable than others, but that doesn’t mean I take everything they say at face value. Part of that is because I understand the sourcing in which I am getting my information from. I lean toward sourcing that is more factual than some of the main every day sourcing you commonly see. I also lean toward sourcing who does more long form styles of writing. I want all the facts and information imaginable so I can best formulate my own opinions.
That’s not to say I can’t take something good away from other sourcing like Fox, MSNBC or CNN. I certainly can. It’s just far and few between.
If you can’t even figure out which sources are least biased and factual…it’s honestly sad given the free flow information we have at our fingertips. Use it. Figure it out.
Currently, we are seeing a narrative regarding that same free flow of information being under attack because of social media sites pulling down information.
I am going to paint a real simple picture for you to understand this. SOCIAL MEDIA SITES ARE NOT NEWS ENTITIES.
Yes, we use them as such. I even admit to using my social media to aid me in finding news. But, I don’t take what I see at face value. It is rare that I see something and automatically hit “share.” I do my vetting accordingly. People love to just hit share on something that adheres to their beliefs.
If someone shares an article, vet it. God forbid if someone shares a meme or random graphic, vet it.
Someone shared a screenshot of a tweet on Facebook the other day that said the following…
Crazy how the internet cannot eliminate child pornography, the root demand for child trafficking, but can censor, block, and delete all “conspiracy theories” and facts.
Oh, & contact trace those who’ve been in contact with Covid, but not those who steal and molest kids.
I am almost positive I had an aneurysm reading that due to the multiple claims that hold no water whatsoever.
Let’s break this down word for word.
No, the internet can’t eliminate child pornography and yes it is a major issue. I am not even doing a deep dive into the conspiracies around it though.
Is it a problem? Yes. 1 case is too many when it comes to something as disgusting as human trafficking as a whole, especially child trafficking. Many governments across the world are trying to fight it. Hell, the US didn’t make it a federal crime until 20 years ago. More information has come out in more recent years thus making the fight more substantiated.
Remember that research thing I talked about? Romania broke up three huge trafficking rings in four days earlier last month alone.
The tweet goes on to imply the internet can censor, block and delete all conspiracy theories and facts. What that statement says is there isn’t a single fucking website or social media page on the web that is conspiracy theory driven.
Side note, putting conspiracy theory and fact as if they are mutually exclusive makes no sense at all.
The last part, apparently the internet itself can contact trace people. That’s pretty big. What a time to be living in.
This all stems from people who are pissed because the social giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube took down the videos of some quacks who claimed they have the cure for Covid.
There is a very small fundamental principle you are missing when it comes to social media giants removing things, they’re private businesses. While Facebook is a publicly traded company, it still falls under the blanket of a private business. That means you adhere to their terms and conditions.
This is not some attack on your free speech. They are not the government. You are not being arrested for said speech. Did any of those doctors get arrested for making the video in a public place? No, they didn’t. So there was no attack on free speech by the people the 1st amendment protects you from.
The irony…Many of the people I am seeing talk about free speech are the same who believe athletes shouldn’t be allowed to protest. They were the same people defending the NFL for outlawing the protests last year. They are the same who believe gay couples shouldn’t be able to buy cakes if the bakery they go to doesn’t support gay marriage. They believe Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil A all have the right to stand on their religion as means to disallow certain protections under healthcare. Don’t move the goal post because you all of a sudden don’t agree with the business.
So when social media sites take down false information or widely spread conspiracy theory thinking, do I have a problem? No. Mainly because too many people can’t research and think for themselves anyway. On top of that, it’s a private business.
There is far too much spin doctoring on social media as it is. So when something is blatantly bad, so be it.
I have seen a handful of people share a video of Jim Jordan “taking down” Dr. Fauci for hypocrisy because he won’t condemn the protests.
In early June on Good Morning America, Fauci said this regarding protests…
“Masks can help, but it’s masks plus physical separation. When you get congregations like you saw with the demonstrations, that’s taking a risk.”
In the video with Jordan, he repeated that crowding and not wearing masks can increase the spread. The answer wasn’t good enough for Jordan as he wanted a divisive quote on the protests. It wasn’t hypocrisy and it wasn’t Jim Jordan taking him down. It was Jim Jordan looking like an asshole trying to bait him. It failed, miserably.
As per usual, the people I questioned for posting the video were not willing to fall on the sword they stuck in the air in the first place.
People want to shove politics down each other’s throats, but they don’t actually want a discussion.
I have a bigger problem with the consumers that fail to do their own vetting and then take that lack of information to the polls. I have a bigger problem with the people who scream their political viewpoints, but won’t defend them when faced with information to combat it. I have a bigger problem with relentlessly bashing the media for being bias when consumers do the same.
Do journalists need to be better? Yes. 100%. So do we. While it is not necessarily our job to cover the news like it is a journalist, we should still open the window sometimes.