Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Americans have lost confidence in the media

The media tends to over exaggerate the truth, and that is perhaps the main reason only about 25% of Americans have confidence in American newspapers and TV news outlets such as ABC, NBC, CBC, and the like. Yet we shouldn't be surprised at these low poll results.

When I was in school as a journalism student, and during psychology class, we studied how people have a tendency to love tragedy and drama. The example used was a many who has a heart attack in the middle of a street in New York, and how hundreds of people would stand around watching the drama.

It's not that they knew the person, or even cared, it was that they love that something dramatic was happening and they were able to be a witness to it. Another good example occurred just this past weekend in Shoreline Michigan. We had a plane crash about 2 miles off the shore of the Shoreline beaches in Lake Michigan, and as soon as word got out the plane was being hauled to one of the local boat ramps, hundreds of folks showed up to watch.

The good folks in the media feed on this, and this is the reason they tend to exaggerate tragic events, even make them worse than they really are. In fact, chances are they don't even know they are doing it.

Remember Katrina. There were Senators who proclaimed that over "100,000 people died! They are dead!" When in truth those Senators had no idea the amount, and were highly over estimating the numbers. Yes, it is surely tragic anyone had to die, or lose a home, yet it's not good journalism to allow you emotions to control what you say. Yes, the media trounced all over that 100,000 figure.

More recently you had the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Yes, it was a tragic event. Yes there was oil covering animals and destroying economies of shoreline communities. Yet the event was not even close to "one of the worse disasters of all time!"

In fact, after the oil was plugged, you had columnists walking around saying, "Where is all the oil? It's not hitting the shore? Where is it?"

Well, if these journalists weren't didn't feed off their emotions and educated themselves and wrote based on facts as opposed to feelings, they would have known (as I wrote here) that there is as many as 40 millions gallons of oil that naturally seeps into oceans, lakes and streams on a daily basis, and you don't hear about that oil in the news.

You don't hear about it because this oil is naturally absorbed, sinks, or is eaten by oil eating bacteria as you can read about here.

Or, as this article, "The BP Spill: Has the Damage Been Exaggerated?" notes, has the BP oil spill damage been exaggerated? Well, I don't know because I'm not at expert, yet when anyone in the media writes about pretty much anything these days, I don't have much confidence in what I read. Rather, one must read the news with a grain of salt, per se.

Another example is global warming and the fear that the polar ice caps are disappearing. Yet, now, while the waters are calm, we read, like,"Climate: New study slashes estimate of icecap loss," from

The article perhports that Dutch and U.S. scientists did research that shows Greenland and West Antarctica ice caps melted due to "global warming" is only half of what was previously estimated. This is stunning and remarkable news considering you had some environmentalists actors claiming we needed to make dramatic regulatory changes that might destroy economies in order to save the world -- and the ice caps -- from the effects of global warming.

As you can see by this post, many of the effects of global warming might have been egregiously exaggerated just because some folks had economic ties to the belief that global warming was real. If it's proven wrong, folks like Al Gore take an ego and credibility hit.

Which is a perfect example of why it's more responsible, and better journalism, to let people like Al Gore over exaggerate the facts, and for the good folks who write journalistic articles and columns to write based on the facts only, and not based on emotions and feelings.

Is global warming real? Let our children decide, that's what I say. Let's not take one theory here and one theory there and put them together and say we have a fact. Let's be responsible, take care of our planet to the best of our ability, and not make rash decisions that will destroy economies and societies.

Of course now we have a new Gallup poll that shows that American confidence in the media is only at 25% today, which is less that it's ever been since Gallup started recording confidence in the media in 2002.

Well, if I were a journalism I wouldn't be proud of this number. As an American, and considering the trend of falsified reports and exaggerated claims by the media, neither I nor you should be surprised.

And this is sad, because the purpose of a free press is for the media to keep an eye on the powerful and to prevent them from making laws that are not to the benefit of the peoples. The media is not fulfilling that responsibility, and instead is feeding on the trash spewed out by politicians and activists. The media has becomes the lapdogs of garbage sent out by the government, instead of government watchdogs.

And that, I believe, is a shame.

Related links:

No comments: