Thursday, January 3, 2013

On the News and Subjectivity

I'm what some folks call a conspiracy theorist.

I disagree with that label, since my view isn't exactly "This is what happened! Everyone's wrong!" I'm more…open-minded, I guess you can call it. "Skeptical" can also apply.

Because when I see something on the news, I assume the information is skewed if not outright wrong.

I have reason for my skepticism. See, a few years ago, one of my cousins, a minor, murdered a parent and nearly killed his other one. News stations universally released his name illegally, pulled photos from the church website when the family and friends refused to give one, and misreported what happened.

Some news sources even misreported which parent was dead and which was hospitalized.

I've talked to others who were personally involved in news events. From using the wrong jargon (and therefore completely changing the what presumably happened), to reporting specific details and omitting important ones (therein displaying bias)… The news is not an objective paragon of fact.

Between my own experiences and those of others, I'm fairly convinced it doesn't even give enough facts to be accurate.

But the thing is, I also believe that, for the most part, the news can't be objective.

Consider the speedy deadlines. Consider that the corporations do have to make money, and propaganda (which is what all incomplete information effectually is) catches attention and notice far better than thorough, complete facts.

What do the speedy deadlines have to do with the news necessarily ending up subjective?

Subjective writing is easy and quick.

Truly objective writing is difficult and takes time to write.

Don't believe me? When I was in high school, one of my writing assignments was to write two surveys. One was to be biased, innately seeking specific answers. The other was to be completely objective—and things like what order in which you ask the items and what answer options are influence the objectivity of a survey.

I'm sure objective writing gets easier with practice, but there are so many land mines. Word order, word connotations, sentence structure… I doubt most people could (or would want to) learn to consistently write objectively.

So I'm neither surprised when the news is subjective, and nor am I dismissive when I hear from someone that the news was outright wrong.

And to be frank, I'm puzzled by the folks who insist a specific news source or news story is necessarily accurate and complete. Even if you believe everybody in the news industry wants to be accurate and objective, they're still human and fallible. People can be wrong.

So… That's my opinion on the news industry. Lord willing, I'll be able to get to writing something in the next year or two that'll build on that for dramatic effect. ^_^

Wait, you want to know one of those "conspiracy theories" I'm more inclined to believe than the official story, though I wouldn't be hurt or offended to learn neither were right?

Okay… Twin Towers: two towers, hit by planes—but three towers fell, all the same way. Also, some things I noticed when I first saw the video when it happened: The towers fell straight down, rather than at an angle as should have happened if the plane had been what weakened the supports. The Pentagon was lacking any sign of the plane's wings. (And my father, a former pilot, frowned at the screen and said "That's the wrong engine!" for the type of plane that presumably hit the building.)

You probably disagree with me.

And you know what? You're allowed to disagree with me. I'm allowed to disagree with you. Our disagreement in no way invaliadates either of our opinions.

I welcome your disagreement or your own opinion in the comments, but please leave the logical fallacies (namely ad hominem—attacking someone as a person) under the purview of the Delete key.


Do you have any relevant opinions or tales of news subjectivity that you'd like to share?


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