OPINION — I have enjoyed newspapers since before I could read; sitting around the breakfast table looking at the printed pictures and cartoons, the distinct smell of fresh ink on recycled paper and of course the sound of turning those giant pages which were nearly equal my size.
The nostalgia of experiencing the news, in any of its available formats has been replaced by what could only be described as disappointment.
Call me old fashioned. Call me naïve. I must confess I have a rather lofty expectation of mass media and it is this, report the facts and just the facts. I would like to ponder the issues and process my thoughts on the events being reported on my own and not be told what to think, how to feel or even worse yet, to be judged should I reach contradictory conclusions.
It is one of my beliefs that this is just one of the liberties which makes America great; we each are afforded the rights to our independent convictions, views, and opinions. Why did we begin en masse to demand others think like us? How is it that this line of thinking permeated into the majority of journalism and other forms of media?
Winston Churchill stated, “There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.”
This gripping assessment of media seems to have only become truer. During this election cycle, I have been entirely astounded at the unabashed forcefulness of many journalists, who strongly used their voice to push their opinion as sovereignly right and shameless vilifying any opposing opinion.
I even saw a reputable news source allowing their journalists to conclude his article with his name followed by an italicized character attack on the candidate mentioned in the article (all vague opinion using lots of words that end in ‘ist’) instead of the usual bio. With mounting frustration I wanted to scream, “STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO THINK!”
James Fenimore Cooper observed that while newspapers can be helpful in bringing down tyrants, they can also create a tyranny all their own.
I am deeply grateful for my freedom. This is in part because I believe we each have a contribution to give which is for the good of our society. Our diversity is an asset and is beautiful, albeit difficult to navigate. Having us all think and feel the same would be as bland and dismal as an entire meal prepared using only spice. Flat. One-dimensional. But when a medley of flavors is combined we have something truly special, complex and multi-dimensional.
I wonder wherever did we lose the conviction to value and respect those who view life’s issues from a different perspective? When did we shift to require agreement to manage our own manners and connection to another human being?
I believe our freedoms, as well as societal relationships, would be greater enjoyed and preserved if the general population returned to this practice. This is the responsibility of the masses; each of us as individuals managing ourselves in agreement or disagreement with integrity and honor. The amount of unrestrained, dishonorable and mean-spirited comments left by shocking numbers of the population is alarming.
The freedom to use our voice and even to counter the point of another is a powerful liberty which deserves protecting. Equally deserving of protecting is safeguarding a cultural value for fellow mankind.
The responsibility of the media is to report the facts. This requires fact-checking and documenting sources, something that previous generations of journalists held in sacred regard. Merriam-Webster defines “conjecture” as “an opinion or idea formed without proof or sufficient evidence.” It is my opinion that conjecture has no place in journalism.
Additionally damaging to the ability of Americans to formulate their own opinions on newsworthy matters is rhetoric. Having any special interest group use the platform of journalism to persuade the masses is frightening. This is my greatest area of concern. Rhetoric is often used to shape public opinion and unfortunately, Americans have been quite effectively led to reach desired conclusions.
In considering Churchill’s thoughts, let us be inspired to embrace diverse opinions and respect one another enough to allow for sharing of facts and experiences with plenty of room given for others to draw their own conclusions.
Submitted by Tana Whitton of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Letters to the Editor are not the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them.