Don't believe your lying eyes, just believe us
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 54,400 journalists in the United States right now. One can imagine then, how incredibly hard it is to get all of us together to decide which way to lean politically and to create a unified agenda to push. Oh boy, it can be difficult to convince all those reporters to continually twist the story and to get them to remember the dirty details of the lies they are to create and tell in a convincing, yet grammatically correct way.
Yes, keeping 54,400 college-educated, free-thinking journalists on track with "the agenda" can be arduous, but the fun we have coming up with all that fake news is worth it. It may go against everything we studied, trained for and busted our behinds for throughout our careers, but now that this fake news thing has surfaced, we're all in, baby.
In all seriousness, we here at this newspaper couldn't give a hoot about whether or not individuals in our community lean right or left or go right down the middle. We have all kinds of people on our own staff with differing political views, and yet we all work together beautifully. We don't feel the need to draw lines in the sand and give each other the hairy eyeball from our cubicles or question the legitimacy of each other's work, and that's because we have respect for one another and our profession. We truly have no agenda other than to serve our community, and we're not alone.
"The media" is such an easy scapegoat because it's so vague and vast and because its overall approval rating has dropped over the years, due to an influx of sketchy outlets that have popped up everywhere. The power of journalism has been diluted because of these organizations that unabashedly "report" way right or way left or even worse, fabricate fake news. But it is a little unnerving that there are so many people who don't care to know the difference between the two.
They are instead apparently OK with painting every media organization with one, broad brush and becoming parrots repeating the term "fake news" at everything that doesn't jive with their own beliefs. We've become like a society of entitled teenagers that plug their ears if they don't like what they hear, then changing the channel until they hear something that confirms in their minds that what they already believe is correct.
One can support President Trump for his policies and for who he is - that's fine ... maybe even great, but when he called the media "an enemy of the American people" and also tweeted out certain media outlets that he deemed "fake news" because they were questioning him, he damaged America, because many people actually bought into it.
The organizations he listed are literally among the country's most legitimate news sources whose job isn't to be a mouthpiece for any administration - Democrat or Republican. That isn't to say there is never a mistake made or a bad reporter in the mix, but in those cases, we would equate that to the law enforcement profession.
There are bad cops who do bad things - they do exist - but the vast majority of them are good people out there making the world safer and do not deserve the distrust and disrespect they experience. There are bad teachers who should never be in their positions - they, too, exist - but again most of them are incredible and shouldn't be lumped with the bad. It is the same thing with the mass media profession. It is almost laughable to hear about the "media's agenda" as if we are all one, big group with the nasty, sordid objective of brainwashing our country's citizens into believing what all 54,400 of us collectively believe.
The truth is, there are thousands of media outlets with different owners - we are not all on the same payroll, and we are each other's fiercest competition.
The good ones - the REAL ones - rise to the top and stay there for many, many years, so in a time when it appears to be difficult for people to know what's what, we give this advice: Go back to the basics.
Go back to the places that have been there for years - the tried and true, the old fashioned "get both sides to the story" sources that you remember your parents reading or watching. As Walter Cronkite once said, "Our only job is to hold up the mirror - to tell and show the public what has happened." There are many legitimate news outlets out there still doing their darndest to do just that, "and that's the way it is."
This editorial originally ran in the Detroit Lakes Tribune, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.