All the News That’s Fit to
Print, Broadcast, Televise, Stream!
I remember vividly the day President Kennedy got shot. In addition to farming, my dad was a sawyer. I was riding with him in the big dump truck to deliver a load of wood slabs to a farmer down the road and across the river. We heard the news on the radio, and a charge of electricity went through me. Even though Canadian, we were very familiar with American politics and had a lot of love and respect for Kennedy. It was a sad day.
I remember in January 1986 watching on cable television the Challenger liftoff with a civilian teacher on board. The flight controllers narrated the ascent with monotone professionalism. Flights to outer space had become almost routine—and then the explosion, followed by a classic understatement: There has been obviously a major malfunction. I watched the explosion as it was replayed over and over and over again, glued to my TV, weeping with much of the country.
In the early 90s, shortly after we had begun homeschooling, we decided to cancel cable so as to be more intentional about our television viewing. I primarily got my news from the newspaper and NPR radio. At times, the programming was so far left on NPR as to be clinging to the left edge with bloody fingernails; and when I got mad enough, I would forsake them for KNX 1070 news radio. But when terrorists struck the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and attempted to strike the White House, once again I was glued to NPR for updated coverage and analysis. By then we also had computer, so the images and live footage of bodies jumping hand in hand and ghostly faces, covered with ash, images of massive destruction and a smoke-filled New York skyline were imprinted on my brain as I sat hour after hour before the screen, searching for updates.
Today, I scan the newspaper for stories or opinions I want to read. I pick and choose what interests me, both national and local. The only time I touch the sports section is if my kids are there or if they’ve buried the comics inside. When in the car, I listen to KNX news radio or KRLA talk radio. In order to not be unduly indoctrinated one way or the other, I also listen to KCRW / NPR radio in the car and on my kitchen radio. I especially like debate format shows, like Left, Right, and Center that pit the left against the right. Though the moderator is more left than center, overall both sides can present their views and pick apart the weaknesses in the others’ position. The show actually should be titled Left, Really Left, Right, and Way Out There!
And again, the Internet has become a wealth of sources to mine, some good, some bad. I typically pick well-known sources, like Fox, CBS, and Yahoo, and shy away from the personal websites where everyone has an opinion. In doing a search to remind myself of the date of the Challenger disaster, I found a home video that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt an alien spaceship right beside the contrail and debris. I think I missed that first time round.
In all venues, there is bound to be some hype. And as long as there are “people” reading and analyzing the news stories, there will be bias and misinformation. The trick then is to not shut off your brain. When I research a product I want to buy, I don’t believe everything I’m told. Mmm: Amway, Jafra, Mary Kay, Macys, Penneys, Avon, store brand. Every product developer and seller is in the business of getting me to buy their product, and they will say and present in such a way that a sale is the bottom line. It’s not bad—I just know that; so I use discernment in finding the right product for me at the price I want to pay. Similarly, when shopping for news sources, I seek to discern whether what I am hearing and / or seeing is reliable and what bias, worldview, or ulterior motive might be mixed in with the bare facts. Getting information and insight from various sources is a better way to ensure that I am not being propagandized.
I prefer the news be boring, giving me the option as to whether I want to tune in or not. But knowing that our world is complex—sometimes violent and sometimes inspiring, sometimes horrid and sometimes fabulous—those life-changing moments will come when I will want to know more. As it stands now, I have a plethora of venues to choose from.