Friday, March 8, 2013

1.  My morning walk with the dogs

Purple Lupine perfume my air
Mr. Mockingbird is tuning up
North wind still blows cold!

Purple Lupine
2.  The “news”: I know a person who writes newspaper articles.  In this wide world of events that swirls around us it is fascinating to see which stories are selected to be reported as “news” by our news sources.  My friend faces daily pressure to select stories that he thinks his readers will respond to with interest.  His career depends on it. 

We live in a culture that expects disasters and conflicts (international. national, local, political, community, sports, personal) to be dished up for us to read  with out morning coffee and toast.  I’m not one of these “Pollyannaish” people that want only “ feel good” good news published... and it is worthwhile to ask what should be the function of news in our lives – filtered, as it is, through commercial profit making news sources, and individual writers anxious to make a name for themselves.  The pressure to write something acceptable every day must be fierce. 

What responsibilities come with discovering the truth?   How can you be sure something is "true"?

What is the function of news?  To entertain?... to make our lives more complete? educate? make us more effective in our daily lives?  I want stories that teach me something useful that I didn’t know, I want to learn about the key people that determine my world, sometimes a good news story can present me with a challenging question rather than an answer,  stories about life in other cultures that remind me that “my way” is not the “only way”.  

Respected editorial writers offer us their latest predictions  (especially political...) - but no one ever seems to check how often their predictions come true... but we keep reading them nonetheless...because they have made a “name for themselves”. My biggest concern is that too many of us are beginning to confuse opinion sites with factual information.  That is the challenge for our time!

A challenge for me and maybe for you too...

Historically, investigative journalists have a reputation for courageously searching out and speaking the truth...  These are the journalists that I most admire... whether they are acting to expose political corruption, social inequity, corporate greed, environmental issues... they often are telling a story that someone does not want to be told...someone who personally gains from a hurtful situation.  Investigative journalists sometimes risk their own well being to travel into dangerous situations so that the rest of us may know the truth.  Good investigative journalists double check their facts.  For them journalism is a calling.  Reporting on storm damage is easy compared with the research needed to expose the truth about a political malfunction. Sadly, as cuts in funding become more common,  major news sources are cutting their staff of journalists and depending more on commercial, profit making, generic wire services to find their stories.  

A free and open press is like another branch of our check and balance system
With expanded technology, we live in a time when our  news sources are becoming increasingly polarized. Its easier to seek out sites that support our positions rather than seeking to understand the positions of those with whom we disagree.  Print news sources are in decline as internet sources add more variety but also sadly more polarization. Every morning  I quickly scan several internet news sources for headlines of interest and then read 2-3 articles in depth. It is my challenge to remember to seek out opinions with with I do not agree...
Why is this so hard to do... (seek to understand those with whom I do not agree)

A fable 

2.   How do we label events as "good"  or "bad"  - Are "good and bad" fixed?

A farmer had only one horse. One day, his horse ran away.
All the neighbors came by saying, “I'm so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We'll see.”
A few days later, his horse came back with twenty wild horses. The man and his son corralled all 21 horses.
All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We'll see.”

Wild horses
One of the wild horses kicked the man's only son, breaking both his legs.
All the neighbors came by saying, “I'm so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We'll see.”
The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and many young men were killed, but the farmer's son was spared, since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted.
All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We'll see.”

Is this approach to the news admirable? Is it lacking something important to you?

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