Media freedom

Dear Editor,

Free media are essential, but with freedom comes the obligation to be responsible and objective in reporting news. Yet today we find prominent “journalists” who openly state that their primary responsibility is to bring down President Trump. What an affront to the American people and to our democratic principles!

There are many ways for the media to slant the news, some more subtle than Five are listed below.

First is blurring the line between news and commentary. This has become more of a problem with some newspapers in recent times. Editorials do not belong in the news; they belong on the editorial page.

Second is non-substantiation. How common it is for journalists to report quotes from anonymous sources “not authorized to speak” on the subject. If there is no attribution, the quote is worth nothing, except to “journalists” who want to slant the narrative.

A prime example of non-substantiation is the so-called “Trump dossier” financed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, which has been used to trash President Trump and as partial justification for government spying and investigating.

Just as serious is the reporting from known sources of “facts” that “journalists” have not verified and that turns out to be false. It happens far too often.

The third is not reporting pertinent facts. A classic example of this within the past few days was the arrest of an illegal alien who was driving his wife to the hospital to give birth. Many news reports apparently were intended to elicit sympathy for the man and his wife and cast the government as cruel, because they conveniently left out two important facts. The woman was not in labor but was going for a pre-scheduled cesarean delivery and was perfectly able to drive herself, and the man was being arrested on a murder charge. Some of us consider those omissions to be significant.

Fourth is the loose usage of inflammatory language. How often are words like “lying”, “racism”, “sexism”, “misogyny”, and “homophobia” used in the media with no regard to their actual definitions?

Fifth is burying pertinent facts deep in newspaper articles beyond where many people read.

Many in the old-line media are frustrated by no longer being able to control the narrative, as they did for most of our history. Today we have many alternatives for the delivery of news. For this reason among others, many of us have “cut the cable” and are no longer captive to the major TV networks. The Internet provides us with access to a variety of sources, both left and right, from which we can learn and reach our own decisions.

The Internet is a double blessing because we live in an area where extensive news coverage is not available in newspapers. This is no criticism of the Times Observer, just recognition that its primary function is to provide local news.

Gary Widell,