The bias in the news industry has finally hit home with me and if it wasn’t so tragic it would be utterly laughable. I have watched how mainstream news media has become agenda-driven from a distance with disdain. There are times I wish I could spend a day with new journalism students and give them the true history of journalism. They have never been exposed to fair and honest political journalism that doesn’t attempt to sway someone one way or the other.
It came home to me this week when I was attempting to write a story on the protests going on during the inauguration in Washington DC. I was looking for someone who was involved in the movement from this area so I could give them a voice. Here is what was said by some of these people about me – “Frank Lewis is a conservative so he would just twist our words.” Of course I’m a conservative. Well, not really, I’m more of a libertarian, but what does that have to do with news writing?
If there is one thing I have taken pride in as a reporter/writer it has been to not attempt to put my political ideas into any story I have ever written. I have often boasted – “You can talk to the head of both parties and ask them about me and they will tell you I am fair.” Then, out of the clear blue, someone creates a statement about me with absolutely no basis whatsoever.
Then it dawned on me. This is the hottest topic trending today – fake news. All you have to do is say something and it becomes truth. So it just made me question the sincerity of those who were traveling to Washington. Do they really want their views to be exposed? Or would they rather go unheard and claim to everyone they are oppressed? I don’t know the answer to that question.
Fortunately I was able to talk with a woman in Columbus who is a very nice and intelligent women’s rights advocate and she was pleased to be the subject of my story and I appreciated her candor. I was able to write a story about her views and she made a lot of sense and I understood her concerns.
I enjoy diverse views. I enjoy allowing one side to tell their story and the other side to tell their story then let the chips fall where they will and allow readers to make up their own minds. That philosophy is totally foreign to today’s national news media, but it is what journalism is about.
I grew up on three columnists. Kathleen Parker, Jimmy Breslin and Studs Terkel. Studs and I are as different as night and day. But in the final analysis, he may have made more sense than them all.
“I want people to talk to one another no matter what their difference of opinion might be.”
Thanks Studs for setting us straight. That’s all I want to accomplish as well.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.