Saturday, February 21, 2009

"It's the media's fault"

Love Saturdays, don't you? So this morning I take my coffee, sit in the sunshine and open two days worth of local newsprint for a leisurely read. Letters to the editor rarely disappoint (though I'm frequently amazed at what makes it into print), and today is no exception.

Here's one I have to share. It's a point of view widely held about journalism, and speaks to the issues raised in Storee's fine rant of a few days ago.

Here's a the text of the letter (because it will disappear after a week into a $$-dependent archive) and a link if you want to read it online at the Herald Journal.

Accentuate the positive

Friday, February 20, 2009

To the editor:

Is anybody looking at the bright side? There are a few good things in life right now. Gasoline prices are only 40 percent of what they were a little while ago. Home equity loan rates have dropped clear down to 3 percent. Unemployment in Cache Valley is among the lowest in the country. And, has anybody noticed that the sale of the century is going on down at the old stock market?

But, what does the news media focus on? Not on how low gas prices are now but that they are bound to go up in the future. Where are the articles that focus on the stock market going up in the future? Even the news about the stimulus package is quick to emphasize that we are going to spiral down some more before it can take effect. All the negative news that’s fit to print!

I really believe we can insulate ourselves and keep our local economy strong by continuing to produce and buy goods. Fill up while prices are down. I just bought a locally produced treadmill at a very good discount. We don’t have greedy unions and CEOs around here driving prices up and siphoning off company profits. We don’t have to panic and fall for all the negative news broadcast by the media naysayers, the “Pied Pipers of gloom and doom.” Let’s just do the best we can to keep living, working, shopping and enjoying the bright side of these times despite all the turmoil in Washington. Maybe we can make a little lemonade out of the sour lemons fed to us by the media.

David Taylor

What can we (YOU, as incoming professionals or armchair media critics) do about this perception? It it "all the media's fault" that the news is bad? When the stock market closes at a record low and the unstable economy is the top news story around the globe, should that not be the lead story on the nightly news? If not, why not?



  1. I think that unless Mr. Taylor of Smithfield is a journalist and a citizen he cannot effectively make this statement. I agree that reporting good news and improvement is necessary, ethical and helpful. However, it is the media's job to inform us, and investigate, as least deceptively as possible, to the issues that are happening now and upcoming, bad or good. Looking into gas prices will do this summer is more than relevant, people need to plan, and they might not like what they hear, but hey, sometimes, the truth hurts. And sometimes, people wouldn't know of the corruption or turmoil in the world if it wasn't for the media, and things could get worse, ie the genocide in Rwanda. News isn't inherently doom and gloom, it is just the facts of what is going on. People are too soft, and need to not think they're being fed sour lemons. Reporters and papers put their lives and reputations on the line to feed us information (most of the time) that is vital to maintaining order of some sort. I think people should listen to the news, and then make lemonade, yes, but they can't do it without hearing the bad first. How will they be informed? What is the alternative? Report on rainbows and lucky charms? Corruption would surely double, and people would be left in the dark. Let's get a clue people. Mr. Taylor, please get a clue.

  2. I also agree that pointing out the good about what is happeining is a very uplifting thing to do because it helps people be happier, however I totally agree with Storee in that people need to know what to expect because it is news and it is relevant. Everyone knows what the gas prices are and that they're better than they were several months ago. They fill up their tanks all the time. That isn't news. The news is what is coming next because the media have an 'in' that other people don't, and that's what we're supposed to share.
    I don't know how I feel about people who complain about how horrible the media is, and then continue to watch, read, and listen to it. People know what they're going to find when approaching their newspaper. If they want to hear happy stuff they should turn to the Bridgerland section and read about the sweethearts dance and skip the front page. You find what you're looking for, and it looks to me like he is looking to find out why the media sucks. How does that make him better than us?

  3. I have to agree some what with Mr. Taylor. I do wish there was some good news instead of all the negative we hear all the time. But, I like to think that it is because of the negative news that citizens get up and do something. People see that the stock market is at a low and some realize it is a good time to buy. People buying stocks helps our economy, which eventually leads to happy news stories.
    America is at the worst it has been for a while. The media are just reporting what is currently happening in Washington and the tough decisions the people we elected are making. If Mr. Taylor wants happy news he is going to have to forget about the news that will really impact his world and the decisions that are being made. There is only so much time and space to report the news. We have to pick and choose and personally I would like to know what my elelcted officials are doing rather than reading the obvious that gas is down 40 percent.

  4. I also think the news is depressing. These aren't the best of times and there isn't much the media can do to spin it any other way. Reporters need to inform their audience about reality and the world in which they are living. I agree with Diane that hearing about the bad can motivate people to do better and do something about it. I do, however, think some good should be presented. Otherwise, media just feed the depressed and discouraged. People need to hear there is good in the world and that there are opportunities to make good on their lives.

    I am very sick of journalists analyzing every little thing. I don't think it helps the mood of the country and it gives people like Mr. Taylor more conviction in their perception of the news. I do not think every movement of public officials requires analysis and criticism. I am sick of everyone thinking every move is politically motivated. Maybe our leaders are acting because they think the decision is best for the country, not their reelection. Now, I know this happens a lot but could we have a little faith? Not everything is political. Not everything has to be negative. Things are bad but journalists are definitely fueling the fire.