Stephen F. Dennstedt
Today it is very hard to find unbiased news reporting. When I was a kid growing up in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s we trusted our news sources. At one point in time Walter Cronkite was voted the most trusted man in America. *Cronkite never let his personal politics intrude on his news reporting. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
Note: There was one time, shortly after the 1968 Têt Offensive in Vietnam, when he shared his conclusions about the Vietnam War. But that was done only after getting permission and clearly stating that it was his opinion (see statement here). Lyndon B. Johnson’s famous reply: “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”
I can even remember a time (not so very long ago) when newspapers, radio and television made a clear distinction between hard news reporting and OpEd (opinion editorial) commentary. Such is not the case in this day of Fake News. Today, more than ever, it’s important to find news sources that you can trust (to a point). There is no fault in approaching everything with healthy skepticism.
I will state, by way of full disclosure, my personal political affiliation: I am registered as an Independent. For most of my voting life I was a registered Democrat but the party eventually drifted too far left for my liking and I didn’t favor many of their candidates for political office. In truth, by today’s definition, I am probably more Libertarian in philosophy: I lean to the right fiscally and more to the left socially. I have lost more than a few friends over the last few years because of my political leanings—both right and left.
With that being said—I have been accused by others of being: a Liberal, a Conservative, a Socialist, a Communist, a Radical, an Anarchist, a Vegetarian (I was for a while) and a Buddhist (I followed a formal Buddhist path for many years). Suffice it to say that most folks haven’t quite figured me out (at least not politically). And honestly I don’t really give a rat’s ass what others think about me politically (or any other way for that matter). Their accusations fall on deaf years.
Whether you lean to the right, the left, or somewhere in-between (like me), it’s still important to have ready access to unbiased hard news reporting. If you surround yourself with news sources that simply pander to your own particular leanings, biases and prejudices you learn nothing new and gain no meaningful insight into the views and thinking of others. Without complete understanding compromise is not possible—and extremist views left or right are not helpful when trying to govern this nation.
As a nation and a people we are extremely polarized here in the United States. If the Roman Circus we call the media wasn’t so hellbent on throwing red meat to the masses this situation might not exist, or at least it might exist to a lesser degree. The Fourth Estate (the mainstream Press) has increasingly mirrored the new Fifth Estate in its approach to reporting and manipulating news events. When news reporting became entertainment and a profit center instead of a neutral objective public service it sounded its own death knell.
You’re probably fed up with politics and news reporting writ large. I don’t blame you. But if you’re still interested in the events of the day, truth, justice and the American Way—and the challenges that face us everyday as concerned citizens you’re going to have to work harder to uncover the facts. Can it even be done these days? I don’t know. I do know that I am trying to find some reliable new outlets. In that effort I offer up these suggestions:
- Stay away from Cable TV news. MSNBC (biased towards the Left) and Fox News (biased towards the Right) are two good examples (I would throw in CNN too).
- Stay away from Blogs. Blogs (including this one) are simply about opinion and not about facts. Read them for entertainment but not for hard news.
- Network TV news (ABC, CBS and NBC) here in the USA is somewhat middle of the road but leans left in my opinion (not necessarily a detriment to factual reporting but should be considered when listening to and evaluating the news). Since becoming profit centers and entertainment they are quick to offer up provocative headlines and soundbites. Also, most news outlets are so quick to air news (heavy competition to be the first) that they sacrifice sound established vetting practices.
- Facebook is a total bullshit news source. Your family & friends post and share what they want to believe which often has nothing to do with the facts (opinions are not facts).
Have I been able to find any reliable sources for news? I think I have but you should research those sources for yourself. The Buddha was fond of saying: Don’t believe me prove it to yourself. However, when proving it to yourself don’t fall into the easy trap of choosing sources that only pander to your point of view. Select sources that present both sides of an argument and leaves you to make the final decision. I find it interesting that three of my recommended news sources are headquartered in the UK.
The Real News Network
To check on the veracity of any news items you suspect of being Fake News try these two sources: