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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
Attorney • (808) 845-2211

Bad Journalism 101 – does the truth matter anymore?

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I am an attorney who goes to court against insurance companies, careless doctors who hurt people and big corporations that put profits ahead of people. Need I say more than "BP"? I deal with negligence and avoidable injuries. The mission statement for my office is about safety and families and the community well being. Facts matter to me and to my clients. We care about the truth. But how does someone find the true facts and get to the truth? In my cases I press my clients hard on their stories and investigate what the witnesses say for the truth. If the case is no good, I have to find out early and I routinely tell clients "no case" when their story falls apart.

But today I am writing about the news, not a lawsuit. I am taking a break from litigation and thinking about journalism. Have lost good journalism? I know that there is a lot of bad journalism. So who are these TV new show hosts and radio propagandists that flood the air these days?

Did I miss something? Did someone with a flute wander across our country playing some hypnotic melody and lure the good journalists away? Where is Edward R. Murrow? What happened to Woodward and Bernstein? I know one thing for sure: the current crop of TV and radio news shows, and the magazine and newspaper journalists, are little more than puppets putting out stories without regard to the true facts and expressing opinions for some interest group rather than educating the public about what a good investigation shows. Mostly the big news shows seem to an advertising and marketing tool for the sponsors and the corporate CEO’s who control industry and politics. Or they spread propaganda for a political viewpoint. The name "Pravda" comes to mind. Will we ever see a news anchor report that some other news story is a myth, unethical or bunk? Do people just stare into that plasma 50-inch screen every day and accept what they hear? I am afraid so. We are in trouble as a country. Powerful interests control the news. The truth is suffering from an all-time low in exposure.

Sorry folks but I think it’s over! Apparently others in the journalism field feel the same. An interesting watchdog group in this area is Bad Journalism. Their mission?

Help expose bad journalism — and fight the spin that is spreading in the news media and on the Internet.

I love it! But who the heck is going to read their reports? Well, I plan to follow them and I hope they grow a huge following. Take a look. Sign up. Speak your mind! You know, these days, with the social revolution that this INTERNET technology makes possible and available to everyone who can get to a computer, there is a real chance to expose lies.

But that is only half of the problem. The thing about good journalism is that it is hard to do. Look at Woodward and Bernstein and Watergate! That was Sherlock Holmes stuff! Who will do that investigation now? Hannity? Limbaugh? Cooper? Blitzer? I doubt it. They just read what they get from the Boss. Someone writes their news reports in the bowels of a big political think tank.

When O’Reilly is talking, Karl Rove and Grover Norquist are pulling the puppet strings. Those Fox folks have never set foot outside of a corporate boardroom or the TV set. The New York Times has reported that Jon Stewart has shown the Fox political operatives for what they are: a propaganda machine.

The other day, there was report on CNN about the fact that the people who attended a public protest seemed to be misinformed about the facts. The newscaster then asked in a surprised tone: "why do you think these protesters have these erroneous factual beliefs?" The reporter’s tone was one of total surprise. Well, the answer was simple: this news station had been reporting the erroneous facts as "news" for the past few months and people believed it! The reporters never took the stories apart and said that these facts are false!

The "panels" that the major TV news shows assemble are not independent scholars who know something about a subject. They are political operatives and attractive employees of the station who have no credentials for anything except how to look good on camera. Stefanopolous and Buchanan and the rest are just spouting political spin that they get backstage from their handlers. Would you rely on anything they say? I wouldn’t.

And don’t get me started on ESPN, the BCS conspiracy and that group of talking heads. I won’t watch any ESPN shows ….. and I am a huge sports fan. And I won’t buy products from the companies that advertise on those stations. I vote with my dollars. I know it has no impact but it makes me feel good. The sports angle on this subject is for another time.

Go Boise State!