What no one is telling you about the media.

We see rumors and conspiracy theories popping up every day and some people believe them because they fit in a particular world view. Just because it sounds true doesn't mean it is true.

There is a phrase that pops up in a lot of blogs, social media posts and general conversation that really annoys me.

"The media is not covering this."

It doesn't matter what the socio-religio-political position of the person making the statement because it is a universal belief among all stripes that something they consider crucial is being ignored by the news media. This article is to describe why your crucial information is being ignored.

  1. You don't actually read general news media so you have no idea if it is being covered or how it is being covered if it is. Few people actually read legitimate news sources anymore. More people get their news from click-bait sites or gossip shows like TMZ; partisan blogs and news commentaries; and social media posts than they do actual news organizations. Those people also don't know how news and opinion are two different forms of information. Part of that problem is there is more media investment in the low-information content because there is a greater return on investment. Stating an uninformed opinion takes a lot less work and cost than digging out a news story.

  2. What you consider news is actually not true.  We see rumors and conspiracy theories popping up every day and some people believe them because they fit in a particular world view. Just because it sounds true doesn't mean it is true. News professionals are supposed to take their time and research information to report truth. It is the first tenet of the professional journalist code of ethics: Seek truth and report it. Now it is also a truth that many professionals don't do a very good job of the seeking part, especially lately. That doesn't necessarily mean they are lazy, but that they don't actually have time to do their jobs well, which brings us to point three.

  3. The news media you think exists died out a decade ago. I've been a media professional for 40 years. I started out as a reporter and branched out into marketing communications, PR, and communication strategy, so I have been intently watching the contraction of the news industry. In the Electronics Industry media alone, less than a third of the publications I used to work for and with still exist and 95 percent of the professional journalists have been replaced by marketing executives and low-level engineers who hated to do engineering. Hundreds of newspapers and broadcast news organizations have disappeared in the past decade. We have more access to media channels than ever before and less than half the personnel to cover actual news. Jobs that used to go to professional journalists at one time are now going to people who can be entertaining rather than good at finding truth. I recently saw a "news" story by a freelancer on a cable news network who I had seen previously doing standup on the Comedy Channel. So if the media is, in reality, not covering a particular bit of news you consider important, it probably because they do not have a human being available to cover it.

So what can we do about this?

  • First, maybe you can pick up a newspaper once in a while and actually read the news. Several times a week I read two local newspapers, I subscribe online to Al Jazeera, The Economist, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post and Politico. I also have www.snopes.com in my bookmark bar so I can quickly review if what I’m reading is accurate.

  • Second, on Facebook, rather than follow pages like Huffington Post, moveon.org and TMZ you could start following the really boring stuff that may or may not coincide with your theological and political views. Instead of watching MSNBC or Fox and Friends, watch the news programs on ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS... and NOT THE COMMENTARY sections.  Instead of reading opinion pieces on what was said on Meet the Press and Face the Nation, I actually watch them to see what was really discussed. Online sources of information are not all bad. scotusblog.com is a great source of information about Supreme Court news, for example. 

  • Third, a good filter for any online source is any that does NOT use the phrases, "What they are not telling you...", "A little-known fact...", and "what the media isn't covering." 

  • Fourth, stop listening to people that tell you what you want to hear. Step out of your comfort zone.

  • Fifth, don't trust anyone under 30 with an opinion (OK, just kidding about the last one... sort of).

If you follow these guidelines you will not only find out just what is actually being covered, but you will hone your BS meter’s ability to make you properly skeptical.