Wednesday, January 4

Finding the Truth...

At the end of November, two neighborhood teenagers rang my doorbell. They were peddling a community service program sponsored by the Los Angeles Times. I signed up for the paper so they would get extra class credits and I would get the news, delivered to my doorstep on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for fifteen weeks.

While I was writing out my check to these girls, a small, hysterical voice in my head screamed, "You idiot!"

For five weeks, my husband and I have tried to find some value in this chunk of murdered trees. The first three papers taught us to avoid the front pages unless we hankered for useless articles about uninteresting subjects. We sifted through the "world" news section once in a while and found a nugget or two of information. The "local" section was decent, especially since much of the information is not available on the internet. The nation, business, calendar, sports sections were disappointing. Finally, we had to find a new car and tried to glean something useful from the classified section, and found out that Toyota and Nissan were having sales - a redundant and less flashy advertising alternative than the relentless and loud TV ads.

The paper sucks. It's recently been bought by the Chicago Sun Times, ferchrilstaches, and revenues are declining. Maybe they are trying to save money. I've notice that the front page is peddling generic fluff instead of highlighting city specific articles about important things - a recent front page headline on bottled water!!!! comes to mind. Hey! Where are the facts we need to figure out what is going on in the real world. If they are authorizing articles on water, how about on the corporations that are buying up this resource and selling it in third world nations. What about water quality, pollution, availability, conservation and other things we need to know about to live. Too boring? Not enough sizzle to sell this steak? No money in it?

And now we briefly examine the great Virginian mining journalism disaster. The "ooops" did-we-say-twelve-miners-survived-we-really-meant-to-say-they-died. And, to add insult to horrendous injury, the media now focuses on the reporting mistake and has kicked the deaths of the miners to the curb. Why? Too depressing? Blame sells? Or, no one really understands the basics of information dissemination: who, what, when, where and why. The facts, please. Let me sizzle my own steak - I don't need some airbrushed repugnatan groupie doing it for me.

Well, I shudder to think what new generic news items I have to look forward to on Friday. I've already bought another recycle bin for this mass of soggy, grey and black pulp. I want it to stop! (Please, God. Make it stop and I promise to never, ever cave in and subscribe again!) I've called twice to stop delivery or reroute it to some other poor, unsuspecting citizen - don't start with the guilt trips, please, I'm desperate - and it still shows up in the middle of my dew drenched lawn. I guess no one else wants this loser. Why should we pay for a generic newspaper when we can get the same crap for free on Channel 13's nightly, news-o-tainment program. I refuse to watch it, btw.

I realize that there are more important issues to get worked-up about, but right now I'm concerned about the quality and truthfulness of America's information sources. I find the internet a good place to gather the facts and form an opinion. Three websites I check once in a while to glean facts from journalism fiction are, cursor, mediawatch and Information Clearinghouse. Ironic that these are "progressive" sites.

I've tried to be non-partisan when it comes to checking facts and I used to take a look at the National Review Online and the Cato Institute to keep up with the latest right-wing, Libertarian spinnage, but any GWB supporter has a serious problem with truth and reality, in my opinion.