Much of the time the problems are based on pure propaganda. Deliberate suppressing of truth, manipulating of truth, twisting of truth, and just ignoring truth in order to advance an agenda. A great example of that was a previous post's story of a woman who decided to abandon her family to focus on herself. The author, all awash in admiration for this brave woman's priorities, probably realized that deep down it's a pretty deplorable thing to walk out on one's family. So rather than wrestle with the ethical implications, the Shine journalist decides to place it against the hypocrisy of our age where, apparently, men are able to abandon their families to indulge in a lifetime of self focus and nobody cares. Except, or course, that's a lie. If a man were to divorce wife and abandon kids with the excuse that he wants to focus on himself, he's pretty much toast in the public mindset. Certainly he's done for in any feminist outlets.
So that's a great case where the media loves to make a quick false statement as if it's simply common knowledge, then move on in the hope that nobody pays attention. This happens with the hope that somehow, it just seeps into our collective consciousness.
Of course beyond the obvious agendas, biases, prejudice, bigotry, and beliefs that cause so much just suspicion of the media, are the cases where they just get information wrong. I remember when I was in middle school. A local family was traveling in a small plane to Florida when they crashed. All were killed. It was pretty big in our school. We even had a memorial in our gymnasium - a rare thing back then. The Columbus news channel that reported it said that a family from Marion, Ohio was killed. They weren't from Marion. They were from Mt. Gilead. Just north of Edison to be exact. Even then, I thought, "How could they get such an easily verifiable fact wrong?"
Well, nothing has really changed. In this piece on the ever reliable NPR, we are introduced to Jose Gomez, Los Angeles's new Archbishop. This is the opening sentence:
"Jose Gomez, the first Latino archbishop in the U.S., takes the helm of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angles on Sunday."The problem? Jose Gomez is not the first Latino archbishop in the U.S. That would be Robert Sanchez, a priest of Santa Fe who was made archbishop there in 1974. He was later forced to resign. Five years later, Patricio Flores became archbishop of the San Antonio archdiocese in 1979. I know, it seems picky. But facts are facts. We are supposed to trust the media to tell us what is happening in the world. To know what is going on. To know this and not that is the solution we should pursue. It's tough enough when every fibre of our being screams that they are not being truthful, that they are manipulating data to advance agendas. But when you realize that even if they were being truthful, such flagrant and easily remedied factual errors occur, even the most trusting reader and viewer has to approach any media story with a certain level of caution.