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Journalistic Integrity ...in the age of Trump. It’s TIME

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Posted on March 26 2019

 

Real News

 

Journalist & Journalist Integrity

 

Trump and Fake News...

 

I think I’ve been pretty clear, I am not a journalist. Nor do I make any money doing this blog or tweeting. Have you SEEN my typos and grammar? Somewhere in America my English Teachers cringe every time I make some typographical blunder. Admittedly some are I’m fact hilarious while others are just terrible. Bless me father for I have butchered the English Language, a lot. /snort

 

🌶SpicyFiles Trigger warning🌶 this entry is not meant to directly or indirectly cast doubt or intended to attack the American media writ large. My intention is to ask uncomfortable questions and invoke a much needed conversation about the media we consume. And to specifically address what’s becoming a norm, blurring “journalisms with political-entertainment.

 

In looking back at my time in college I had a choice; door number 1, political science or door number 2 journalism. I chose the prior versus later. As a pretty regular consumer of Main Stream media, the following are my opinions, interpretations and observations. However let’s address a few ground rules, as they will establish a predicate for the conclusion of this entry. Again I’m not an anti-establishment or anti-mainstream media.  In order to have a fulsome  and actual intellectually honest discussion, you may find these resources helpful:

 

New York Times: GUIDE - Ethical Journalisms found here.

Washington Post: Policies and Standards, found here.

Time Warner Media Group: Coperate Integrity statement

*Reuters Standards & Value: Handbook, found here.

 

 

*full disclosure I might be a bit biased as it relates to Reuters, they are part of the Thompson Reuter’s Conglomerate and I use one of their products almost every day.

 

One of my preferable news resource is NewsGaurd, they offer a rather simplistic “nutrition labeling system” for news consumers, like myself. On January 31, 2019 NewsGaurd issued the following press release, which reads in part:

 

A selection among the publications whose websites have changed their practices through NewsGuard’s rating process include:

✅ Newsweek, Yahoo! News and Gallup adopted clear standards and policies for publicly and prominently correcting any reporting errors.

✅ Fortune, Reuters, NBCNews, Mail Online, Fast Company and The Western Journal added information about their staff and leadership.

✅ Forbes and hundreds of sites owned by GateHouse Media such as the Providence Journal and dozens of sites owned by The McClatchy Company such as the Sacramento Bee added clearer labeling of sponsored content and links.

✅ Washington Monthly, Percolately and AlterNet added information about their ownership or about their financing, such as disclosure of major donors or investors.

 

Again, reporters are human, so are their editors and they can and do make genuine mistakes. I know from personal experience that when I have made a mistakes both on Twitter and this Blog. Once I realize that I was wrong, I take swift action to; 1) own my mistake(s), 2) fix my mistake(s) while leaving a historical record; 3) offer a contrite apology; and 4) vow to not repeat that mistake in the future. Even though I’m not a reporter nor do I have an editor. I tend to spend a decent amount of time checking, checking again and almost always provide you with a link to the original data source. If I’m stating my opinion, I make an effort to be upfront that those are my opinion versus a matter-of-fact.  I just find “owning” up and not equivocating is far easier than trying to explain how I was right or wrong.

 

As a consumer of news it can be hard to discern if it’s “real” versus “fake”. To be clear in the age of Trump, understand that he is systematically redefining what “fake news” is. Specifically and in my opinion, Trump’s quickness to scream “fake news”, versus “news Trump doesn’t like”, for example I ran a search on Trump’s Twitter Archive:

 

Search Parameters: 

- January 1, 2015 to Present

- Search phrase “fake news”.

388 unique tweets, link to Trump’s own twitter archive found here.

 

And while you might laugh at the fact I try to tune Trump and his twitter feed out. I found it important to my own impartiality. Meaning by ignoring his twitter/TV screeds it helps me to focus on the facts. Given I find Trump to be verbally and emotionally abusive but subjecting myself to his daily trash. Hard Pass. I started to realize that Trump wasgetting in to my head and I was reacting, sometimes acting irrationally versus focusing on; facts, actual actions of his administration and the ripple effect his terrible public policies are having on millions of Americans is far more productive.

 

For me, I judge the “news” based on the following expectations:

 

  1. Facts ARE facts and they need to be supported by absolute irrefutable evidence that can be found court filings and/or data derived from Government agencies, FEC Records etc. Are the facts presented independently available to the public to access.
  2. The whole truth, regardless of how ugly or exquisite it might be,
  3. independence of the journalist and the news organization that employs them
  4. Is the “news article” fair and impartial. Specifically does it have both sides or ALL sides incorporated in to their report
  5. Critial Thinking aka use your noodle and remain skeptical, it is okay to ask questions and to question every thing.

 

There are a few other mitigating factors, like the source of said information. In general I am not a fan of anonymous sourcing but I’m also mindful that there could be viable reasons for one to remain anonymous. And anonymity shouldn’t preclude the veracity or authenticity or meritorious facts provided by an anonymous “source”.

 

However if I’m going to be intellectually honest, I can sometimes unwittingly be caught in my own echo chamber. Most of the time I am able to self calibrate which means I will force myself to watch or read Fox News and MSNBC News. In my opinion these two particular “news” networks have continued to add to the divide and affirm the Alt Right and Alt Left’s war on the Truth and Facts. As of late I’ve stopped watching both networks and have found sourcing my news-diet via cspan and the justice department’s website. 

Like many of you I really have a hard time believing a single word that spews out of Trump or his administration’s mouthes. Trump alone averages 11.66 lies, misleading or false statements per day. See the Washington Post fact checker here (it’s dated March 17, 2019 so that average number might be outdated)

 

 

In advance of the highly anticipated Special Counsel Mueller Report, I created this thread. Because my gut feeling was, no matter what the Report actually said, Trump would claim 100% vindication. Not that this matters but none of us know what’s in Mueller’s Report beyond the two “quotes” selected by Attorney General Barr.

 

 

I also hyperlinked to numerous cases in my March 23td entry,  that have been farmed out to various AUSAs, it’s not 100% clear that every case was farmed out by the Special Counsel’s Office but this thread puts all three entries from Friday thru Sunday in to better context:

 

 

In a not so unexpected move there are now various “news” outlets writing what I can only define as “yellow journalism” hit pieces that are in fact one sided, meant to be click-bait and often have misleading quotes, minimalistic on both fact and substance. While I can’t get in to the “intent” of the reporters or news outlets that push these hit pieces, I can’t help but wonder: why, what’s the purpose, how does that article add to the plethora of issues facing millions of Americans. 

Granted I have long held my lack of desire to knowingly amplify “whataboitism”, or “rumors” or “gossip” or “theories” or “fake news”. I’m a fact driven person. I crave facts like most normal people crave coffee in the morning. Facts allow me to tune out the white noise and keep my feet firmly planted in reality versus unmoored from actual reality. However with the recent news that has all but consumed the beltway and the twitter beltway, I noticed an amplification of a pattern:

 

Resistance is QAnon

QAnon is Resistance.

Grifters exploiting everyone.

 

I really do not do hashtags, well maybe once in 9,647 tweets (no really I pulled up my archived data). I do not do conspiracy theories. Conversely I will occasionally indulge in a debate of hypothesis (which is in fact a discussion based on an educated guess), again provided it is grounded in facts as we know them. Yet this need to annihilate each other needs to stop.

For example a high profile Twitter user had a MAGA supporter show up at their home yesterday. That crosses a huge line of personal boundaries. This is why I will never condone doxxing, cyber harassment or acting like a self righteous twatwaffle on twitter  (you already know who you are so there isn’t a need for me to name names). When you dox or redox someone, you are in fact putting that person  and their family at risk. Doxxing is criminal but it’s also a vulgar use of weaponizing Information and intending to do someone else harm. Are you really that empty of a vessel that you need to dox people?

 

The day before this is what was tweeted at me (although that account is RiP). I’ve never interacted with this account, not once. I archived it for you because this is emblematic of the current divisive and corrosive rhetoric that’s likely infected nearly all social media platforms:

 

 

  

Conversely if you are a paid reporter and you decided to use the resources of your news organization to publish actual hit pieces, I assume you’ve thrown out your journalistic integrity, your personal Integrity and decided to add more division in to an already divisive poltical  climate.

Granted this report is about two years out of date but based on my observations most of that data appears to still ring true. In July of 2017 RJI Journalism Institute published their findings after gathering data from 8,728 Americans, below are a few findings from their research, which reads in part:

Mentioned as trusted:

  1. The Economist
  2. Public television
  3. Reuters
  4. BBC
  5. NPR
  6. PBS
  7. The Guardian
  8. The Wall Street Journal
  9. Los Angeles Times
  10. The Dallas Morning News

Mentioned as not trusted:

  1. Occupy Democrats
  2. BuzzFeed
  3. Breitbart
  4. Social media
  5. Trump
  6. Infowars
  7. Yahoo
  8. Internet
  9. Huffington Post
  10. The Blaze

You can find their full report can be found here and here (zipped file). You might also find this January 2019 NYU project informative as it relates to Fake News and the proliferation.

My point of this entry? As a consumer of news, you have some responsibility of what kind of news you choose to consume. I mean if you choose to only consume a Fox or MSNBC news diet, I suppose that’s your prerogative and I’m certainly not judging you, given that at the Doctors office I’ve been known to flip through a tawdry tabloid magazine but I draw the line of having it delivered to my home or on my tablet.  You also have this neat thing, it’s known as the ability to exercise  “critical thinking” and we all happen to live in a Country were Free Speech and the Free Press are protected (at least for now, I’m kidding, sort of).

And because this video just never ever gets old...

 -SpicyFiles OUT...I am exhausted by all the hyper partisan bullshit.

 

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3 comments

  • Kathy: March 28, 2019

    Thank you for all your long hours of invaluable information. Just running this by you,, (because my brain won’t stop) . Who promised to drain the swamp? Who is the mole in the White House? The swamp is being drained daily . Is there some other possibility?

  • Kathy: March 28, 2019

    Thank you for all your long hours of invaluable information. Just running this by you,, (because my brain won’t stop) . Who promised to drain the swamp? Who is the mole in the White House? The swamp is being drained daily . Is there some other possibility?

  • Mary: March 26, 2019

    Thank you Spicy!!!

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