Media mania: Where do we fit in?

By Reade Brower | Oct 10, 2019

“Fake News” is a diversionary term to discredit mainstream media since President Trump took office in 2017. In an attempt to control the narrative, the constant “fake news” mantra has been employed, with some success, as supporters continue to believe what Kellyanne Conway described as “alternative facts.”

The challenge is the media struggles with its own biases. Though most news stories are fact-checked and truthful, headlines and innuendo sometimes get in the way, skewing truth, ever so slightly.

Close to home, our sister paper, “The Free Press,” had a front page article that skirted the lines of news story with editorial. This column is on the editorial page of Courier papers because it’s opinion; my opinion, not necessarily that of the newspaper or its editor or publisher. Columnists attempt to create conversations and are allowed flexibility because it’s opinion, not fact.

Not the same with news stories; that’s what I took exception to in Ethan Andrews’ front page story, “Option of Last Resort — The Future of Point Lookout.”

The story itself was factual, no issues there. The owners of Point Lookout, David and Tami Hirschfeld, called a press conference to explain their plan for the Northport complex to get facts out to the public. The community has been wondering about the fate of the complex; a time for questions and answers.

I met the Hirschfelds once and have a good feeling for them and their intentions. They bought the complex to live on the top and farm. The plan to continue the ongoing business was put on pause after seeing a feasibility study, recognizing the business was not sustainable. Understanding the community's desire to see the businesses continue, they reversed direction, hoping to find people to lease some or all of the existing business on the lower portion of the mountain.

Ethan’s front page article began: “On Sept. 20, as students around the globe were walking out of classrooms to protest the inaction of adults on climate change, David and Tami Hirschfeld were getting pro-active with their real estate, summoning the region’s reporters with the promise of an announcement about ‘the future of Point Lookout.’”

That opening paragraph sets the tone; but, after reading the entire story, what protesting students have to do with the Hirschfelds is still a mystery. The inference remains that somehow what they are planning can’t be good.

The other paragraph, suited to an opinion piece, not a feature story, is “The Hirschfelds’ vision of the mountain, viewed from above, could be a physical model of the current social order: landowners occupying the summit and pristine upper half of the mountain; renters, business people and wage workers hustling in the crowed lower elevations; and a stream of consumers — of weddings, roller derby, business meetings and bowling birthday parties — drawn up from Route 1.”

The connotation (implied) is one of elitism. The notion that anyone that can afford a facility like Point Lookout is elitist is false. Anyone that can buy Point Lookout has wealth, but wealth does not always equate to being elitist.

One needs to know the person before proclaiming such a thing and Ethan doesn’t do that; he makes assumptions, sharing them with readers as truth. That’s the slippery slope and a reason why it’s hard to trust the media; in the case of the Hirschfelds, they were reacting to a community they want to be a part of, trying to find a solution, keeping workers employed and the mountain a viable business. Instead they get a slap in the face.

This gets under the skin because of the numerous times strangers (people who don’t know you) write things that have no basis in fact, coming from conjecture, speculating on motives they have no idea about.

It’s reminiscent of the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

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Further from home, an email correspondence went from “off the record” presumption to quotes in a column meant to rile waters and set fires. To see my email used, when the person knows I’m not day-to-day, left me disappointed; often I know just enough to be dangerous.

Nowhere did I state “off the record,” so fair game — mostly trust gets you where you want to go, but other times it finds trouble. One sees why many feel the press’s boundaries aren’t always sacred or righteous.

That said, the mainstream media is also the best defense for a corrupt government; freedom of speech, better than the alternative.

The truth will set you free (sometimes making you miserable first) and the mainstream media is invested in it, but must walk the fine line of being righteous and fair — when bias gets in the mix, the truth muddles, giving detractors talking points.

One last media observation on those who want to put us down; most times those crowing fake news are running away from it because they have something to fear; people don’t flee because of lies, the truth brings out the naked in people.

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“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” — Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 10, 2019 13:51

food for thought Reade.....



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