ROTHENBURGER – Blurring the lines between objective reporting vs. opinion
THERE’S BEEN a bit of a controversy the past week or two involving comments by a local media individual that I won’t get into because he’s had his say — at great length — and I’m not inclined to give it even more attention, nor certainly to feud over it.
In fact, as much as I feel other commentators’ opinions are off base on any given day (as I did in this case) I support their right to express them, though I might wish they were better informed. Media commentators are paid to tell people what they think.
But it does raise an issue in need of some scrutiny.
It makes me think about some of the legendary old-time opinion leaders who make us current commentators seem unworthy by comparison. I have vivid memories of people like Edith Josie, Ma Murray and Jack Webster.
Edith Josie lived in a tiny place called Old Crow in the Yukon. Each week she would send her column in to the Whitehorse Star by airplane. The column was called “Here Are the News” and it had readers around the world.
Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired daily newspaper editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Too bad I missed the event that triggered the controversy…local matters.
So, because the reporter can inform us what has happened, and the commentator can state an opinion, they could be the same person, but, should they be the sam person?
I can’t agree more that the media needs to be very clear about what is an opinion and what is fact. There are still plenty of newspapers that are reputable and hold themselves to high journalistic standards (e.g. NYT). However, the average homo sapien is still susceptible to untruths as we are not exactly programmed to separate fact from fiction. This is where hucksters
like Tucker Carlson really cash in. It’s not the facts that count, it’s the message.
If you peddle in stuff that feeds into people’s prejudices, you’re going to corner a good chunk of their market. That in turn translates into millions in revenue which keeps the wheels of the BS factory turning.
There ought to be laws against twisting facts and making false insinuations because ultimately it is harmful and damaging to ones institutions. Dominion won their case against Fox, but really in terms of the damage done to the U.S. as a whole, this is the tip of the iceberg.