Part of having officially arrived at “Old Fart” status is coping with my hyper awareness of the lack of research, accuracy and useful information disseminated by the media. The demands of a 24 hour news cycle have made it impossible to give a story it’s due and move on. It has to be whipped into a frenzy and subject to all kinds of speculation by “experts” who clamor for attention and air time. Most troubling is how hard it has become to watch the news without frequently hearing, “according to unconfirmed reports” and “X Network News reports” when you are on a different network than X News and they don’t have a clue if it is accurate but the teleprompter rolls with it anyway. I understand how the Internet has conditioned us to expect instant access to events, but without any practiced eye reviewing them for content, factual accuracy or relevance? In doing that it has also made many of the people who bring us that news incredibly lazy.
This morning was a case in point. For the second time in as many days, my husband (who serves in elected office) was misquoted regarding a city issue. The really sad part? I listened to him patiently explain - point by point – to the reporter how he was misquoted the day before, yet after all that the reporter went ahead and published the same damn misinformation for the second time. Joe even attempted to help the kid out by recommending he call someone else connected with the story, to the extent he gave him the name, place of work and street the guy lives on to help him out. The reporter’s response? “Oh…. I’ll just Google it.” In the process of “just Googling it” the reporter came across some clearly outdated interviews and presented that information as current. Additionally, he didn’t bother to “Google up” the one person who could clarify the information and make this article oh, I don’t know, ACCURATE?
One of the things I love and admire most about Joe is his thick skin, his security in his own ego and his incredible ability to roll his eyes and shrug off the number of inaccuracies in newspaper ink. My Irish soul rails up and demands action – he just shrugs it off as young-reporter-inevitable and goes peacefully on with his life. I admire that ability more than I can express. He is eleven years older and a diabetic, but he will surely outlive me because I will expire of repressed rage and angst. He is so “glass half full” that sometimes I want to strangle him. In fairness, he has wisely (and accurately) stated that if we were both of the same ilk, “We would have thrown ourselves off the rocks a long time ago.” Thank heavens for balance in the universe.
I bet a lot of “reporters” rely on Wikipedia “The Free Encyclopedia that ANYONE Can Edit!” and Google to do 95% of their job for them. Equally lazy college students are picking up material for term papers off the internet and then getting busted for plagiarism because there are software programs specially developed for colleges to combat such rampant abuse. Fast and easy trumps accurate and intelligently researched every time.
Let’s end on a high note. One of the best commercials EVER made is this one by State Farm Insurance:
Yup, the internet wins.