5 Reasons I Stopped Taking the News Seriously

newsBack in the early 90s, I felt a need to understand politics far better than I had, and I spent a lot of time and effort on it. Along the way – and partly by accident – I learned a few things that put me off broadcast news ever since.

Here are five of those stories.

#1: When a Decrease is Actually an Increase

At one point during this time, there was a furor raised over the funding of school lunches. So, I looked into it carefully.

After delving into the actual numbers, I was horrified to learn that what I heard from all the big-name news outlets was factually incorrect. Every single one of them got it wrong.

So, I called the newsroom of the biggest and most respected news radio station in Chicago (where I was living.) Amazingly, they put me right through. The conversation went like this:

Me: Listen, I have a problem on this school lunch thing. The numbers you guys are using are wrong.

News writer: What do you mean?

Me: You’re reporting a seven percent cut in school lunch funding, but I checked the real numbers – they are going up three percent. The democrats are saying “seven percent cut,” because they want a ten percent increase. This talk about a cut is false: it’s actually an increase, and you guys have to know that.

News writer: Yeah, well… the democrats gave us stuff to use and the republicans didn’t.

I was horrified, but it was, at least, an honest answer. What shocked me most was the fact that they simply didn’t care. This was the flagship news station in Chicago – the one people went to when they wanted to be sure – and they simply didn’t care about accuracy.

#2: To Make Their Voices Sound Better

Not long after this incident, I was listening to the other news station in Chicago (also an old and respected station) and in the credits at the bottom of the hour, I heard, “The news this hour is being written by Sandy ____.”

As it happened, Sandy was an old friend. A few weeks later I called her about it and asked if she enjoyed the work. The conversation went like this:

Sandy: Actually, Paul, I just quit.

Me: I’m sorry, Sandy. It sounded like a fun job. Why did you quit?

Sandy: Well, I was writing the news as accurately as I could, but they were changing it as they read it on the air.

Me: Some kind of political bias?

Sandy (laughing): No, they were changing it to make their voices sound better.

Me: What!?

Sandy: I kid you not, Paul. They thought their voices would sound better if they changed what I wrote, so they did.

Sandy is a person of integrity, so she quit. She was the only one.

#3: Editing Tricks

At one point, I was involved in a human interest story that ran on the big local TV station. I observed all of the filming and talked with the interviewer off-screen as well. (Seemed like a nice guy.)

But when the show finally aired, it had been edited so that people seemed to be saying things they never said or intended to say. The program didn’t present them saying anything horrible, but it was definitely not the truth. To the viewers, however, it looked 100% real.

#4: The “Real” Story

Another time, I had the insider’s view of a story that made the national news via quite a few major news outlets. The giant TV network that covered it (and their famous news anchor) simply got the facts wrong. So did smaller outlets. One newspaper got it right – The National Enquirer!

#5: The Short Term Weatherman

Granted, this one’s just for fun, but it still makes a good point.

Years ago, I was helping in the evenings at a radio station, in a regionally important Midwestern city. At one point the DJ started pushing buttons in an excited way, then turned to me:

DJ (urgently): Paul, stick your hand out the window!

Me: What??

DJ: We lost the satellite feed for the weather report. Stick your hand out the window!

I complied.

DJ: Now, is it warmer or colder than when you got here an hour ago?

Me: I don’t know, D… I think it’s a little warmer.

By the top of the next hour, we had the satellite feed back, and the solemnly reported temperatures for that evening ended up being:

Six o’clock: 66 degrees.

Seven o’clock: 69 degrees.

Eight o’clock: 62 degrees.


No Respect

The job of the news media is not to be accurate; their job is to be respected.

All of the expensive suits, the perfect hair, the conservative diction and bearing… it all serves the purpose of gaining respect. Accuracy and fairness would only become factors if they damaged that respect.

Have you ever noticed that there is no competition between news networks involving accuracy? There are no Fact Wars between networks. They spend millions to make people respect their chief news reader, but they don’t point out each other’s factual errors.

So, I don’t respect them or take them seriously. And now you know why.

Paul Rosenberg

9 thoughts on “5 Reasons I Stopped Taking the News Seriously”

  1. The most influential marketing on earth is the news. They somehow convinced the public that they were impartially conveying the facts.

  2. And it took you HOW many years to realize a low down, dirty, bias, prejudice and uncaring media??? It only took me a week of listening to Rush Limbaugh back in ’88.

    1. It took me a few years, god forgive me, but eventually I woke up to the fact that he, like Hannity, O’Reilly and a host of others from the left and right, are selling a form of political porridge. Trying to make you give up your god given heritage, plain old common sense, in order to goose-step dittoishly at ever vomited word uttered. Damn them all.

  3. Read “Amusing Ourselves to Death; Public Discourse in the Age of Entertainment” by Neil Postman. (The front cover illustration for the paperback version is classic. A headless family in front of the TV which is the only light in a dark room.)

    Television is eye candy. It’s all about entertainment and cannot be anything else.
    IOW the medium is the message.
    End of story.

    And don’t leave us wondering. What was the insider view of #4?

  4. There are many examples of journalistic malpractice throughout history.
    One only has to look at WHO owns our media outlets to see what “the real game” is about.
    From the New York Times walter duranty extolling the virtues of communism while hiding the fact that the Soviet-engineered “famine” in the Ukraine was taking place to communist walter cronkite’s assertion that the Vietnam war was “lost” despite heavy enemy casualties during the 1968 Tet offensive, there were many instances of journalist malpractice. After the Tet offensive, the North Vietnamese were ready to deal. However, thanks to the American news media snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, North Vietnamese General Giap remarked that the American news media helped his cause immensely and gave the north Vietnamese the resolve to continue on . . . extending the war (and American deaths).
    Regarding the American news media’s “slant”, one would think that there is only one Israeli political point-of-view – Zionism. In fact, there are many political parties and political diversity within the state of Israel that get no coverage from the American news media. Here in the USA, regarding jewish affairs, Zionism is the ONLY (approved) point-of-view.
    All one has to do is look at the present-day reporting of the “knockout game” perpetrators. They are never described as to race–if they are black. The word “teen” is a code word for black.
    The news media’s fawning over the o’bama is another sickening situation . . .
    People are seeing through MSNBC’s (and the rest of the media outlet’s) manipulation of “news”. From the lies about Zimmerman’s conversation with the dispatcher to using an old photo of “saint trayvon” instead of his “gangsta thug” picture, to whitewashing “saint trayvon’s” criminal past, the so-called mainstream media has a lot to answer for… Zimmerman has an excellent case against the mainstream media and should be able to get MILLIONS. When the SHTF (and it will) I would like to see those “talking heads” and their jewish Zionist media mogul bosses dealt with first.
    Of course, the “mainstream media” criticizes the internet . . . they no longer have a monopoly on information and are unable to manipulate it for their advantage.

    1. You can’t die overseas fighting a war for corporate interests if you’re not there to begin with. I have little sympathy for America “losing” a war that cost two million civilians their lives. Ergo the same for Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t protect “freedom” by taking a mans life out of his control and sending him like a slave to do your bidding. Yes, the media is controlled and notice how effective it worked all those years and all those bodies later. No need to reinvent the wheel that’s worked so well.

  5. The corporate mass media also frequently omits anything that does not suit the reigning perspectives represented by large private industries (who pay the mass media handsomely via advertising). An example is how diligently and broadly the mainstream media will disseminate anti-supplement news but fail to do so with pro-vitamin information because that data competes with the massive business interests of the traditional medical profession (google/bing “2 Big Lies: No Vitamin Benefits & Supplements Are Very Dangerous by Rolf Hefti”). The conventional media continually misleads the public with a biased story, instead of the real facts.

  6. at the risk of sounding ignorant, in short it is we the people who are the problem, by this I mean our limited education and small attention spans are what’s to blame. If station A was offering true and unbiased journalism, station B was offering the shite we see today, people would swarm in droves to station B, because it’s easily palatable, it’s entertaining, plays on local prejudices and takes no deep understanding of any given subject to feel included.
    For example my wife Is a Veterinarian, “highly educated” 10 years of University but when it comes to the news she has the attention span of a newt, she just wants to feel informed whilst exercising minimal thought ……………Zeitgeist movement people check it out.

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