Friday, July 17, 2015

More truth in poetry than in news stories -- 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers." Addendum From Fram: While "yellow journalism" began as a descriptive term of dishonest reporting in newspapers, the practice gradually became even more evident in television newscasts, particularly in cable newscasts. And, today, political websites and blogs are increasingly becoming the primary purveyors of opinion and just plain lies in the guise of factual, verifiable news. Cartoons, you might observe, can be quite an effective way to point out blatant yellow journalism when and where it occurs and the obvious lack of journalistic integrity so often found among members of the media these days. It usually happens when reporters begin to think of themselves as celebrities rather than as journalists. Honest journalists are becoming an endangered species.

(Editor's Note: What we have here is the first of two posts meant to run in proximity to one another which I wrote in February 2009, but, for whatever reason, did not post them then. I can no longer recall what was on my mind when I wrote them, much less why I did not publish them. I suppose I was too preoccupied thinking about California girls and European girls .... you know how it goes. Moving right along, this is the first segment of what was written back then and left to gather dust .... or whatever gathers within computers. The second piece will arrive soon. Since election politics are swinging into full gear in the United States, the words seem just as relevant now as they were then. Uffff .... how many times has the earth spun us round and round since February 2009, and the words politicians/journalists/ liars too often still remain synonymous? A rhetorical question, but worth thinking about our mental spin cycle. Incidentally, the music, "The Grand Illusion," by Styx, is the music I originally selected to accompany this post way, way back then -- six and one-half years ago. The thought of the span of time between then and now numbs me. The cartoon is not from then; Barack Obama had been in office only about a month when these thoughts were written, and the media adoration of him was just beginning to enter "warp drive.")

Candidates & reporters: Do not trust either

How many times have you voted for a candidate for government office because you had "trust" in the person?

I never have.

Perhaps that goes back to cynicism. Most certainly, it goes to the role and responsibility of professional journalists. I once was among their numbers, and I have "inside" experience upon which to form my viewpoints. Journalists are (at least, once were) trained to be skeptics, doubters, investigators, fact seekers and objective to the best of their abilities. It is very obvious some journalists are better at these things than others.

Television reporting, by-in-large, is pretty pathetic. Many newspaper reporters are more suited for producing fiction than for pursuing the facts. This has never been truer than it is today. Over here, for example, stands a Republican candidate. Over there, stands a Democrat candidate. Each is presenting his political point of view. Inside that view are personal beliefs, personal ambitions, dollars and cents, pressures from constituents, lobbyists and friends, and a host of other elements. Between them stands the reporter. How can the average citizen learn which candidate is telling the "truth" and being "honest" when the reporter has abandoned traditional journalistic precepts and is allowing his personal feelings to enter the story?

Journalists and politicians must maintain an adversarial role. That does not mean the relationship cannot be friendly, cordial and polite, and even have a sort of friendship exist between individuals in the two camps. It does mean that the journalist and the politician both need to understand it is a reporter's obligation to check the facts behind every word that comes out of a politician's mouth. Increasingly, this no longer is the case. Increasingly, fewer facts are emerging from the spin. Increasingly, there is no one left to trust. Increasingly, people have no choice but to follow candidates blindly.

Returning to the beginning of this commentary: I never have voted for a candidate because I "trust" him or her. I vote for the person who I think is best suited for the task at hand in terms of the conditions that exist at that particular point in time, and this is becoming a more difficult task with every election due to the disintegration of the American journalist.

(The other segment in a couple of days ....)


PhilipH said...

Trust dwindles down as age increases. I am a skeptic in so many fields now and I trust very few people. Politicians AND journalists to name but two.

One surely cannot 'trust' a person unless one has known him/her for a long time. We had to trust Churchill in the 1940s as we had no option. A grandmaster with his speechifying and he won through, but it was probably Hitler's errors in opening game that saved this country, and from '42 onwards America's in the middle game that called check-mate in '45.

That 'trust' in Churchill melt away when the post-war elections came: Clement Attlee and the Labour Party had a landslide win. We apparently didn't trust Churchill in peace-time. And that was a sensible decision by the voters of the day. Some momentous decisions followed, mainly National Health. Had I been allowed to vote then I certainly WOULD have trusted Atlee and his ministers. He was, in my personal opinion, the best politician in my lifetime.

But now? How the fluck can you trust ANY politician, anywhere? And the same goes for newspaper reporters and journalists when it comes to elections. Rupert Murdoch in Oz owns newspapers and television channels in this country and I couldn't trust anything associated with his empire.

OK some terribly BAD practices have been exposed by dedicated journalists over the years but an awfully bigger number of lying and misleading articles have been printed as fact.

It's got so bad in the last 20 or 30 years that the percentage of those bothering to vote has dropped to under 50% - often to around 30% in some cases. This is, of course, because people can see little difference in the two main parties nowadays; trust must be at an all-time low.

Better shut up now. Filliblustering is for politicians.

Fram Actual said...

I am not certain if it is appropriate to describe trust as tangible, Philip, but I seem to think of it that way. To me, it is like one of the bricks in a building, something solid and real and part of the whole package, rather than a state of mind or a feeling or a belief.

Whatever .... I give people the benefit of a doubt when I meet them, but trust is something I honestly am not sure I ever have given entirely to anyone. It would seem my brick building stands uncompleted and, probably, never will be a finished structure.

In terms of politicians, I have been friends with a few, worked for one, admired some, but never encountered one I would trust. Possibly, that is because I never have found one whose agenda I could agree with in most, much less in all, respects. If you cannot agree, how can you trust?

There are many things I avoid doing because I do not have confidence or trust in others who are involved in the "project." I might have made the military a career, for instance, but while there I saw so many elements and individuals which did not merit confidence or trust from my viewpoint.

Your analysis of Britain during and after World War II was interesting, Philip. I have not studied the period in that context in any detail, but on the surface I always sort of assumed Winston Churchill had gotten a raw deal. To me, it seemed like a situation of his countrymen telling him, "I do not care what you did for me yesterday; what have you done for me today?" That is an axiom of business and politics alike. I am pleased to learn that you believe Britons handled the situation correctly.

I have known journalists I trust in a general sense, but none absolutely. I am not sure I have known any who could not be bought one way or another .... no one except myself, that is say. In a journalistic sense, I mean .... I have been bought in other ways. But, I also have walked from jobs twice rather than fold to commands from on high with which I disagreed. A sidenote in respect to journalism: You might be amazed at some of the offers I had as a journalist in exchange for favors, but there never was a sale.

The corruption factor, the dishonesty, the arrogance, the greed and avarice -- these things are out of control to the same extent in all political parties here in the United States and a problem among most career politicians, but political and social and fiscal philosophies are vastly different between Republicans and Democrats. The divide is so great that I actually believe there will be a schism at some point in the future to the degree of ten on the Richter Scale. I could say more, but like you, I will fade away into the background for now.

I am glad to see you back here so soon, Philip. Thank you. I enjoy reading your comments, and I appreciate that you take the time to write thoughtful comments.

Kaya said...

I have never used the word "trust"in my voting. Probably the word " hope" that this person can deliver what he promised.

I believe that there are two types of journalists. The journalists who dig in the dirty stories and try to gather shocking information and get attention to what they wrote; twisting and distorting everything. And the journalists with high integrity who don't chase a short lasting success. It's a very slippery road for a journalist to go this way but it will be paid off a big time in the future.

Fram, it's very interesting to know your opinion about Donald Trump. At this point I have a very nixed feelings about him.

About Putin. I am sure we have the same opinion about this guy and what he is doing.


A Cuban In London said...

Well you should never trust a journalist that trusts a politician. There, I sorted that out for ya! :-)

Joking aside, because of my background I can allow myself to be more naïve than the rest of the posters. I see improvements, even little ones, in my choice of voting. It's all about compromise and negotiation, two skills I never learnt when little (although, I did negotiate and compromise as long it went my way! :-D) but which I have learnt to appreciate as an adult.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

Hope probably is a more realistic expectation when deciding who to vote for, Kaya. I guess that is what you turn to when you cannot find a candidate who you think you can trust. And, there are many people who say they cast their ballot for the candidate they believe is the lesser of two evils.

What you had to say about journalists is interesting and, in many ways, what you said is accurate. It often amounts to how broad a brush is used to paint the portrait of what is defined as "newsworthy" and the integrity of those who own the newsgathering operation.

I think Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are similar types of men. They are very much goal-oriented and, once they have their eyes on the prize, are willing to do just about anything to reach it. The primary prize for Trump over the years has been money, money, money. The primary prize for Putin right now is to reconstitute the former Soviet Union. I see nothing wrong with either goal, but what is important are the means used to achieve them.

I do not know enough about Trump's history to make too many judgments, but I do know he has filed corporate bankruptcy four times over the years. What words would you use to describe borrowing money and then using legal twists and turns to avoid repayment?

From my point of view, Putin is being complicit in murder and mayhem in the Ukraine to accomplish his goal, and it is an embarrassment to me that the United States (and European counties) are allowing this to happen.

Going back to Trump, if he and Hillary Clinton are the two "finalists" in the race to be the next president of the U.S., I will be staying at home rather than casting a ballot on election day. I think Trump and Clinton are cut from the same cloth, rather despicable people, and would be injurious to the U.S. if either were to be elected.

Thank you, Kaya. I appreciate your presence and your comment.

Fram Actual said...

The problem with the two major political parties in this country, CiL, is that when one or the other gains control of the presidency or of the Congress it becomes drunk with power. It seems to approach mass hysteria in the rush to do anything and everything party faithful have had on their minds since the last time they had power. Words like "negotiation" and "compromise" and "middle ground" cease to exist.

If it turns out there actually is such a thing as reincarnation, I think I will go into politics the next time around. I think I would be good at wasting other people's money. Judging by the clowns in power now, it does not seem to require any particular talent or skill other than the ability to lie with a straight face.

Thank you, CiL, for coming and for commenting. I hope your sabbatical is a pleasant one.

Kaya said...


Thank you very, very much for your beautiful comment on my post Hawks. Your words are very inspirational and encouraging.

I wanted for a long time to tell you that you are a very open, bold and talented writer. There are so many writing blogs in the virtual world but yours is very special. It's not only captures you and your mind, you can also reflect on many things you are writing about; you can relate to some of them and think about others. Your blog is a food for mind for all of us. Is's personal and not completely personal at the same time. It covers such broad topics like history and literature, music and philosophy. Your blog is about EVERYTHING.

You have a bold honest eye on many aspects of this life, asking big questions about our human problems. You can openly to write about death and not afraid how others will react to it. We usually don't talk often about this topic.

With a perfect combination of humor and subtle irony you write so beautifully and in a very talented way and make me think about my own chaotic journeys through my life. You create conversations with us, conversations which make us feel that we know you for a long long time and you are not a stranger; you are a friend.

For me personally you write more human truths than any book tell us.

Best wishes to you Fram.


Fram Actual said...

Led Zeppelin sang about being dazed and confused.

Your comment has left me dazed and speechless, Kaya. Really.

I think I will simply say, thank you, Kaya .... and fade away for a while as I try to absorb your words.

Something special ....