Posts Tagged ‘news’

Unhappy with ‘the media’? Then support real, good journalism

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Image courtesy of a news publication to which I subscribe.

Are you fed up with “the media” and all its liberal/conservative/insert-negative-adjective-based-on-your-personal-worldview bias? Are you utterly disturbed that Donald Trump may well be our next president because of people like this profiting off “fake news” sites? Or are you relieved Hillary wasn’t elected despite a constant barrage of “media bias in her favor”?

Then do something about it. Instead of simply complaining about “the media,” support real, good journalism, which is a cornerstone of any successful democracy.  Here are just a few suggestions on how to do that:

-Support a local newspaper or media organization, not just national orgs like NYT or WaPo, through a subscription. (After all, all national stories start out as local stories somewhere.)

-Be a responsible consumer/sharer. Always, ALWAYS check the sources of the story (both the website itself, and the people/organizations to which information in the story is attributed) before plastering it all over social media. If it’s not real, good journalism, don’t share it.

-Be aware of your own confirmation bias and question it whenever possible. Just because you don’t like a fact doesn’t mean it’s not true, and just because you agree with someone’s opinion doesn’t mean it’s a fact. I personally avoid sites like HuffPo because I know they have a liberal bent, and I would be tempted to just agree with what they publish without questioning it. It can be hard, but try not to only consume content that reaffirms your existing beliefs.

-Make consuming investigative journalism a priority. It takes longer than skimming a newsletter or Twitter or watching a two-minute segment on CNN, but you’ll have a much more nuanced understanding of the issue.

-In that same vein, I personally also avoid 24-hour cable news all together. The need to fill airtime, along with the use of soundbites and the constant punditry, is a disservice to journalism and the people it’s supposed to serve.

That’s just a handful of suggestions I came up with off the top of my head after a friend asked me on Facebook. I’m sure other journalists have more, and I certainly welcome those suggestions.

Because here’s the thing. Journalists, like you, are people doing their jobs. Also like you, they expect, and deserve, to be paid for doing that job. But when people consuming the service they provide expect to get that service for free instead of paying for a subscription, or use online ad blockers, or claim to be interested in investigative stories and “good” news, but actually only click on fluff and “bad” news instead, it stifles the sources of revenue needed to pay  journalists to do their jobs — and to do their jobs well. When revenues decline, the higher-ups employing these journalists order layoffs to keep the company somewhat profitable. The survivors are then expected to do more good journalism with fewer resources. This, of course, is a logical fallacy, so the quality of work produced by the organization declines, and even fewer consumers are likely to pay for what they perceive to be a sub-par service.

I’m sure you can see how this story ends.

You have the power to change that ending though. Support real, good journalism. Clearly, our democracy needs it more than ever.

New life philosophy: Don’t be a dick

Well, I like to think that’s always been my life philosophy, but I know I’ve committed my fair share of dick moves in my life, intentionally or not.

But motherhood has made me soft, and the current shittiness of the world makes me feel powerless.

But there is one thing I can do, every day, that makes a difference, even if it’s small. And that’s to be kind. Or — if you have a propensity for crude language, like myself — to not be a dick.

No matter a person’s perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, intelligence, socioeconomic status, education level, physical ability, mental state, age, upbringing, attractiveness, weight, occupation, hometown, lifestyle, current mood, hygiene, relationship status, parenting style, annoying tendencies, apparent inability to use a turn signal, or recent history of screwing up your lunch order — we are not actually capable of knowing what it’s like to live their life, despite whatever preconceived notions we might have.

But we are all capable of not being a total dick to them. Even if they were just a total dick to us.

Is this oversimplying things? Of course. I might just be a privileged white girl in Montana, but I’m not naive enough to think that if we all just sing kumbaya and be nice to each other, it will magically erase the deeply ingrained prejudices in our country and the excruciatingly real pain so many people suffer because of them.

But is it going make things worse? In a world much too full of hate and indifference, is going out of your way to show kindness to a fellow human being going to make it worse?

Show compassion. Have empathy. Choose love. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. However it resonates with you, make a concious effort to do it, especially to those in our society who need it the most. Don’t be just another person spewing negative energy into the world.

Is it always that simple? No.

But sometimes, it is.

So when it is, make the choice to be kind. Or at least, don’t be a dick.

Another mass shooting, another spike in my cynicism

When October 1 rolls around again in five years, or even next year, will you remember? Will you remember October 1 is the day nine innocent people were shot and killed by a deranged man with a gun at a college in Oregon?
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Or will you not even register the date’s significance, because it was just another mass shooting, just another day in America?
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Thoughts
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I shared this satire and commentary on Facebook on Thursday, mere hours after the shooting. I considered deleting it upon realizing how cynical it sounded, but decided not to.
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I don’t want to be cynical about gun violence in this country. When I hear about yet another mass shooting, I don’t want to simply shrug my shoulders and move on with my day. I want to be hopeful. Hopeful that this one will be the last straw. If nothing else, I want to be hopeful for the sake of my 9-month-old daughter, who before I know it will be out experiencing the world on her own, where I can’t protect her all the time.
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But I’m not hopeful. I’m cynical. I have been since Newtown. If nearly two-dozen school children can so easily be shot and killed, and we as a society do nothing to fix the problem — a problem that is uniquely ours, that doesn’t happen in other civilized nations — what could possibly give me hope it will ever change?
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Blame mental illness. Blame racism. Blame religion. Blame the media. Sure, those all contribute to the problem, to some extent. But that does not negate the fact that all these incidents still have one significant detail in common: Guns. Guns that can murder throngs of people in mere minutes. Guns that are much too easy for anyone with sinister motives to access.
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I’ve never understood the logic behind the opposition to stricter background checks. If you are a responsible gun owner, what do you have to worry about? Is it really such an infringement on your freedom if you have to wait a few days before obtaining a firearm? Or to pass a basic psychological evaluation beforehand? When it could prevent someone who intends to deliberately inflict harm on innocent victims from following through? Is that not worth it to you?
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I want to be hopeful that at some point, enough of us will admit that while individual rights, including the right to bear arms, are sacred, they are not so sacred that it’s worth sacrificing the common good, over and over and over again. I thought Newtown was that point. But here we are, almost three years and dozens of mass shootings later, and nothing’s changed. Nothing’s fucking changed.
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I want to be hopeful, but I’m not. America is sick with its gun obsession, its glorification of these weapons. Even if we found a cure for this sickness, it would probably be too late. Honestly, I’m not sure why I’m even writing this. Mostly to vent my frustrations, I suppose. I know it won’t change anyone’s mind. People never change their minds. I certainly don’t plan to, not on this.
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So, I am cynical. But maybe — just maybe — beneath this deep cynicism, there’s still a sliver of hope that this time, America will prove me wrong.

‘Be an encourager, not a critic’ (You *probably* won’t end up in prison for it)

I came across this quote on Pinterest yesterday that really resonated with me:

Encourager

I’m an editor at a local newspaper, which has no shortage of critics. Mocking the town rag is a cherished pastime in many places. In fact, if you’ve ever come across someone who has only glowing reviews for their local paper, I’d like to meet them, so I can thank them for not making me feel like a stupid, worthless idiot who should just quit now and join a traveling clown brigade … because I made a typo.

Anyone who goes into journalism quickly learns that this comes with the territory and grows the thick skin required to deflect the gratuitous naysaying, which also prevents us from curling into a ball in the shower every morning and blubber-crying before we have to go back into the office and do it all again.

But, as I’m sure is the case in any industry, sometimes it can be hard not to get sucked down into the hole of negativity yourself. And a lot of the time, we are our own worst critics.

This quote was a good reminder that though I can’t control what others do or say, I can choose to rise above the criticism and offer encouraging words instead. (Of course, there’s always the time and place for honest, constructive criticism, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be thoughtfully delivered.)

In fact, I liked this so much, I wrote it on the bathroom wall at my salon yesterday.

OK, that sounds weird. Let me explain! The bathroom walls are covered with that chalkboard paint, and they provide chalk to encourage people to write inspiring things. At least, I hope that’s what it was all about. They’d recently erased older quotes that I swear were there before, so mine was the only quote, and the salon wasn’t very busy yesterday, so if I wasn’t supposed to do that, they are totally going to know it was me, and I could be under arrest for graffiti crimes at any moment.

So, that’s my little spiel for the weekend (and your heads up that I might soon be blogging from jail, which I imagine involves inscribing posts into the wall with a shiv, inevitably delaying publication.)

Happy Sunday!

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