More important than ever to be informed

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Like many of you perhaps, I worry about the future of the news industry.

Unlike most of you, this is the career and culture in which I live daily.

I won't pretend to give a history lesson on the news business because we all analyze those who bring us our daily information in vastly different ways.

But it goes without saying that the news industry of today bears no resemblance to prior times. And the forecast quite frankly is not encouraging.

There are so many problems with news today, it's hard to know where to begin.

Every single study and poll clearly shows that the American public holds very little trust in the news providers.

Starting with television - since it remains a prime source of news even today - I hold no trust in CNN or MSNBC to provide anything even remotely believable. And there are countless millions who hold Fox News in the same low category.

It wasn't always that way. Or at least in appearance, it wasn't that way.

But let's dig beyond the talking heads of television and visit the internet, which is a breeding ground for false information, inflammatory rhetoric and more arguments than a family Thanksgiving dinner.

Left unfiltered, you can read any and all volumes of absolutely false news paraded as fact.

Twitter is apparently a hot brand these days although the financial position of that complex technology would seem to indicate that it will soon fall by the wayside.

Here's what's both puzzling and frightening.

There will soon be new technology - although we remain clueless of the details - that will replace the manner in which we gain our daily insight.

Newspapers are my limited field of even more limited knowledge, but I assure you the days of the traditional newspaper are fairly numbered. By traditional I mean the daily process of putting ink on paper and throwing it into your driveway.

But that does not indicate the demise of this industry. Just a major shift in the mechanical process of getting information into your hands.

But the shift in the direction of the major news outlets is the most distressing.

When we lose all faith in those who "tell us the story" then we are left with only small pockets of information in which we can fully trust.

The crucial problem is that an overwhelming number of Americans (and voters) will believe whatever pablum is thrown their way. And if they are so inclined to follow one news source exclusively, their opinion of issues large and small is tainted and misinformed.

The real problem however is that there is no real end in sight to this drift away from factual-based reporting to opinion-based reporting.

As long as viewers tune in to one network and that network makes money, the gray line between fact and fiction will remain.

An under-informed public is a danger that can and will perhaps dwarf all of the other problems we collectively face.

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