Saturday, July 20, 2013

Journalism or Sensationalism?

According to the Encarta Dictionary, English North American Version, Journalism is a noun, and is the profession of gathering, editing, and publishing new reports and related articles for newspapers, magazine, television or radio.

Using the same reference, we find that Sensationalism, on the other hand, is the practice of emphasizing the most lurid, shocking and emotive aspects of something under discussion or investigation, especially by the media.

These two definitions are the basis of my thoughts today.

We live in an era where the “news” is everywhere we turn. It is on the radio; it is on the television; it is on our computers, iPads, iPhones, Kindles, or any one of the other devices we carry. The only problem is that this “news” is reported in many different ways.

Some media like to spread the news like the farmer spreads fertilizer. The intent here is to plant a seed and watch it grow. It doesn’t make any difference to the person reporting it whether it is true, has been investigated thoroughly, or is just idle gossip. If that particular media agent feels it is going to generate money for the media outlet, that is apparently all that counts. It could also have a domino effect and generate some unfortunate incident caused directly from their improper reporting..

Other media only write or talk about subjects they feel will benefit them. Our political system is like that. It doesn’t make any difference what party you are a part of, you can find information that makes you feel good about your decisions, regardless of their authenticity.

We are all guilty of bad reporting, from time to time. What? You say you don’t think you are? Well, perhaps you are perfect, although I have yet to meet a perfect person.  

Here is an example of bad reporting by good people.

The other day a friend called to get additional information about a party to be given by a mutual friend. I had no idea what the caller was talking about. When the caller found I had no knowledge of the party, he became concerned that my feelings were hurt since I apparently had not been invited. As it turned out, this party was barely into the planning stage, and was just conversation between two acquaintances.

Information comes from all kinds of sources. It is our responsibility to check not only the sources,  but also the content of that information. I lead the pack in getting busy, half-reading something that fits my thinking at the time, and sending it out, only to discover later what a fool I was for not checking it out first.

The next time you hear something, or you read something, or you see it on your special device or television set, check it out before passing it on. Be sure it is Journalism and not Sensationalism.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Tragedy

Trayvon Martin, a tragedy, a conundrum for many, a traumatic loss for his parents and those that loved him. The first thing anyone with a conscience should do is extend their prayers to the families who have suffered this,  loss and pray that it does not happen again, although we know that it will, sometime, someplace.

The big question should be, “What caused this, why did it happen?”

According to the news media, this is a young man who was loved by his parents, parents who gave him all that they could to help him become the man they wanted him to be. This is something that all of us, as parents, do with the hope our sons or daughters  will grow up to be what we ourselves had hoped for ourselves.

Unfortunately, we don’t always measure up as parents, or as sons and daughters for that matter. I was one of those young fellows once, one that had a father who found greener pastures away from home. Although I saw him from time to time, he was not there when I needed him the most.

I am sure that my mother did her very best to bring me up and to help with that she solicited the help of my older brother, who in turn did his best. Still, there was no father figure. No father to help me make decisions; no father to see and join me in my achievements; no father there when I needed him the most.

Who is to blame? Anyone? Will no one step up to bat?

All we know is what we have read and seen on the media since day one of this incident. During that time we discovered that this little boy, who grew to be over six feet tall; this little boy the prosecution continued to call a “youth,” had become a man. Did he get the right direction along the way to manhood?

When I was seventeen I had a car, a job, worked the last year of high school part time. I had cigarettes, often had blended whiskey, and nodoubt, other things I probably didn’t really need. One thing that I needed was a father figure to emulate.  I never achieved that six-foot status. I didn’t have a record as a juvenile; I never tried to intimidate anyone; I didn’t hang out where I knew I was not supposed to be. Did I get into trouble? Not any more than any other teenager that thought that he was beyond  reproach,  smarter than everyone else. Do you remember how brilliant you thought you were at seventeen and eighteen?

How can we judge a person? Should be even try?

Our country will now get involved as an afterthought. Where were these “upstanding” individuals when Trayvon really needed them? Have you ever noticed how those that seek revenge, those that seek publicity, those that try to sway their fellowmen and women to a perverted  way of thinking, only come out of the dark when there is a person in agony that they can easily prey upon and  use as a spear to plunge into the side of our justice system, or our liberty?

It is not my place to judge or to condemn. I leave that up to the judicial system, as wrong as it can be from time to time, it is the only thing we have that can form  the balance between good and  bad.

Before any of us act, we must stop, think, perhaps even meditate ,or pray if so disposed, about what we are about to do, and be sure it is truly the path we want our children and our fellow citizens to follow.