I lived and spent my adolescent years on my Grandfathers dairy and vegetable farm in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Notwithstanding the work ethic I learned, I learned many life lessons that I reflect upon today when memories are triggered. Discussions of ‘fake news’ triggers such a memory for me.
There was no concept of fake news on a dairy farm in those days. There was no 24-hour news channel, no Facebook, and no cable in rural America. You either watched one of three broadcast channels to get you news or you read a newspaper (We also talked to our neighbors). That’s how you got your news – and it was family event that coincided with dinner (Dinner was called supper in that house). After Supper, we all relaxed before milking cows for the night milking and learned about what was happening in the world.
It was quality news. News stories were presented, by the likes of Walter Cronkite, from a neutral perspective. You were given the best facts they had. After the news ended, we’d go to the barn and spend the next three hours milking cows. During that time, a common point of discussion was the news we saw. We had to figure out for ourselves how the news affected us and we had to form our own opinions about it. No one told us how we were supposed to feel about a new story – you had to decide for yourself. The idea of selecting a news channel based on your political affiliation wasn’t born yet. You didn’t choose a news channel based on your political bias, you chose the channel to watch based on how good the reception was. Going outside to turn the antennae was a normal chore.
Times have changed quickly. For example, here at West Chester University the news on all the televisions is CNN, which has a political bias in a specific direction. Interestingly, although both CNN and Fox news channels are available, someone at the University makes the news channel selection on our behalf. I hope it’s a janitor. Maybe we should turn all ‘news’ channels off, except for the University TV channel – our Communications major use that for practice.
I stopped watching all news because it’s become a hurtful political propaganda machine designed to attack people who do not align with each other’s political perspective. Are we being cowed by the Billionaire Media Moguls with political agendas – or are they just capitalizing on a business need; do Americans want to be presented news based on how they align politically? Seems like we are being presented news that we agree with and minimize the perspectives of the ‘other’ side. Sounds dangerous.
I miss the old news – good old-fashioned Old-School reporting of events from a neutral perspective. I trusted it – a feeling I haven’t experienced in several years and don’t expect to feel again – possibly ever. I fear most news has become so biased that it should be considered ‘Fake News’.