Thursday, January 17, 2013

Objectivity is rare ...

... perhaps because there's more than one side to any subject and our sources fail to provide them.

Has there ever been a time when news reporting was objective and truthful?  In trying to see the last half-century clearly, I haven't been able to find a time free from media bias and carefully constructed propaganda.

I remember when 'propaganda' was what the communists did, but we had freedom of the press!  Nothing but the truth; they can't put anything in the news that's not true.  It's been hard to look back and see the actual events.  The Vietnam era was poorly served by the news of the time, and our government was less than truthful.  Things today are perhaps not improved.

From another, more optimistic viewpoint, we're now rather well connected via social media and international communications.  It's a bit volatile, but the capabilities have served us well in spreading the word.  The Arab Spring, the death of Bin Laden, and Whitney Houston's death were occasions where social media circled the globe before the news agencies could catch up.  The public debate on gun control and assault weapons is splattered over every media.  Congressional inaction is widely criticized.

We do have to exercise a bit of caution; a percentage of 'breaking news' stories on Twitter and other media are nonsense or lies. Still, we're connected worldwide, and it's more difficult for major media and governments to get away with flagrant misrepresentation.  It could be spectacularly good for humanity.  We'll see.

Being well informed is perhaps more achievable than ever before.  We might, with a little work,  actually approach objectivity.