Due to the recent fall, I’ve not been writing my column for a few months. Dealing with the pain while healing and being behind in my chores somewhat dulled my inspiration to put pen to paper. Reading “News That’s Fit to Print” in the opinion column of the November 13th issue of the Ennis Daily News gave me the much-needed push to get off my butt and speak out. I couldn’t be prouder of Nikki Cohan, Mark Warde, and the rest of the paper’s staff for their dedication to honesty in reporting facts, and not falling prey to the temptation to be biased, or printing incomplete stories, or lazily relying on the reports of others, as many other news outlets do. In January 2017, I didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation to contribute regularly to the opinion column. I am thankful that I’m only allowed my opinion. I am quite happy to leave the news reporting itself to professionals.
The citizens of Ennis are privileged to have a paper with such a tradition of accurate and honest reporting in a day and age when it seems to have become rare. Exceptionally critical in these troubled times, our major national news media is rife with biased reporting. Sometimes it is subtle, in relating only a portion of something that was said, but out of context. Imagine things you’ve said over time, perhaps finding that someone had repeated only part of your conversation. Perhaps you’d said, “Life is hard, and it’s easy to be bitter, but look within each day for that which you are thankful, and you’ll be lifted up.” Your so-called “friend” might tell everyone you’re depressed because you said, “Life is hard, and it is easy to be bitter,” or worse, they report that you said, “Life is hard, and I am bitter.”
Context is important. News that “three hundred people died in Texas” without saying over what period of time, in what manner, and any other surrounding facts would be alarming. Very possibly, if you consider natural deaths, accidents, and not just murder, it might be true on a daily basis. People do die every day, and people are born every day. Perhaps we should balance it with, “Three hundred babies were born today as well.”
Another way of reporting false news is to quote an “authority” in a specific area of concern and accept it as news without challenging the premise, or at least clearly reporting it as an opinion, stating it was not being endorsed by the particular media outlet. Even with a disclaimer, it is, in my opinion, wrong to print or voice something not substantiated by tangible evidence of fact. Someone accused of child abuse, but not proven, broadly becomes guilty in many people’s eyes. Though innocent and falsely accused, their life may be ruined.
Unfortunately, many of our news media sources are motivated only by money, not caring about honesty or truth. To blame the media only is to forget that the public not only accepts that behavior but encourages it with their pocketbooks. The common saying, “If it bleeds, it leads,” is a reflection of what the public is willing to pay for. “Three hundred people dying” sells papers, “three hundred births” does not. Not alarming enough, I guess.
At least in Ennis, we have a paper we can be proud of – the Ennis News. They are a beacon of truth, shining for all to see, and they deserve your support. Take personal pride in Ennis – a place where truth and honesty do matter – yesterday, today, and tomorrow.