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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Headliners should be free of tinfoil.

Today I am actually having issues with putting my thoughts into words. Its an subject that means a lot to me. There are somethings that are to precious to screw up and you really have to put thought into those things. Today I want to discuss an amendment. The first amendment in particular. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

You see I have been at odds with this for awhile because of the balance shift caused our free market economy. I support the freedom of religion and the implied freedom from religion. I am okay with free speech, and I feel it is extremely important to express that right. Free speech is the most underused right in this amendment. I even support the hate speech of groups I do not agree with, because to deny them opens the door to deny others the same right. I am all for peaceable assembly, the key word peaceable assembly. If you get together to plot against the public then that is not peaceable. (It might just be a board meeting though for a any company now a days.) I also think it is very important to protect the right of the people to be able to address their grievances. It is the most important of the checks and balances in a government for the people, and by the people.

The one I wrestle with though it the freedom of the press. I understand the need. I understand the importance of not allowing the press to be silenced, or controlled by the government. In essence the press could and should be the most effective way to understand what is happening in our government. This is where I also get into the core of my objections with the press on either side in modern times.

While all of these items are protected by the first amendment, I think that they should be thought of as separate in order to be dealt with responsibly. For the press to be effective they must report the news, not sensationalism. They can not use things to appeal to the baser emotions of their customers. In doing so they invalidate themselves as a source of truth. In reporting the truth they can not be used to address grievances, they can only be used to inform you as a citizen about the issues that you may or may not have grievance with. I think it is important that people understand the difference between what could and should be called news, and an editorial.

I also believe it is an abuse of these guaranteed freedoms to hide behind the freedom of the press and the rights afforded by it while engaged in commercial enterprise. Money is not the root of all evil, I know, its the pursuit of money that makes people do evil things. The days of newswires in pursuit of truth have been superseded by the pursuit of selling commercial time. Sponsors are attracted by ratings and ratings are gathered by attracting people to watch, listen or consume your product. They do this by embracing sensationalism and running their version of the truth as a business.

It is as it should be, a simple relationship between the news and the people. The press is offered a trust that they are just as responsible to honor, as we the people are to protect their right to provide that news. It is assumed that in the reporting they are to use the truth, and for the most part they do. However in more recent times they look to spin that truth and skirt on the line of truth. They use just enough truth in their statements so as they can not be accused of lying. However in peppering their reporting with opinion they violate that trust. They dishonor the agreement.

So it is my opinion that there should be an understanding of what right they are actually exercising on television, the internet, and on the radio. I think a disclaimer should be put forth so that the consumer understands what they are getting. The FDA regulates our food with labeling, telling us the list of ingredients and nutritional value of the food product we consume. Why can't we label our news programs as well. Maybe something as simple as a disclaimer stating clearing which first amendment right they are exercising.

"Today on news two we are going to be exercising our right to free speech with a candid editorial about the state of politics today." Or "Today on channel sixty nine we will be exercising the freedom of the press and providing an expose on government practices. There will be no commentary or flavor added to this, you can decide how you feel about it, we are just offering you the facts, and all the facts we gathered. None can or should be with held to alter or reflect the opinion of the reporters involved or the management of the station and its sponsors."

Wouldn't that be great, since now a days you have dig through so much crap to find what is fact and what is fiction. Opinion is awesome, we all have them, but they do not belong in news. I am not saying people are not entitle to an opinion or the right to voice it, I am just saying that you call it what it is, and not label it news. Stop telling me how I should vote, it is my choice. I would just like all the information given to me so I can vote from an educated stance, and not from a slated view with only those facts you see fit to deliver to me. News should not come with an agenda.

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