December 19, 2009
Each morning, hours before dawn, I am on the internet scanning news stories from dozens of media sources, looking for stories to post on The Police News. As I do, I often read several accounts of the same incident in different newspapers and on different TV stations.
I am always amazed at how different the same story appears in the various media sources.
This morning I read a report in a daily newspaper about a robbery suspect that was chased by police, abandoned his vehicle and ran into a wooded area where he was finally flushed out by police dogs. The newspaper headlined it's story, "Suspect hides in mud to try to elude police." Didn't happen. He covered himself with some leaves.
The newspaper story went on to say, "search dogs found him covered with mud." It's true he was dirty, but he was not covered with mud. We have pictures of the arrest. There was no mud.
Of course the story clarifies that at the end of the sentence by tagging it with, "authorities said." Oh really! What authorities? Must have been an authority that wasn't there as our photographer was.
The story is perpetuated when a TV station picks up the story from the newspaper and repeats it word for word. Spreading the news is the name of the game, but shouldn't they spread it right?
Now, whether or not this crook had mud all over him or not is no big deal. Who really cares? My point is this. What else do they report wrong? What else do they exaggerate? It was actually a good story without the mud.
Can we really trust the mainstream media to report only the facts to us nowadays, without all the color and hoopla? Probably not. Today's news reporting is all about drama and hype in a competive business where they all compete for the same advertising dollar and reporters are competing for jobs.
Could this be part of the reason we are seeing large, old line, print newspapers dwindling and fading away in preference to online news?
My grandfather always said he took things with "a grain of salt." He beleived only a morsel of what he read and heard.
My grandfather was a smart man.