News-washing: How fact-free is your news today?

News-washing: A trend that creates a populace unable to make decisions in its own best interests.

News-washing is a portmanteau of a similar vein to brain-washing. I created it to discuss the idea in which events take place that should be turned into news. The event should be described as accurately as possible, as devoid of emotional involvement as possible. This information should then be coupled with the potential ramifications to the people closest to the event, any witnesses and potential participants as well as how it will affect the circumstances locally. As news agencies propagate this information, the relationship of this information related to the people who are having the news distributed to them should be made relevant without distorting the event, or news about the event in relationship to the receiver of the news.

Though the graphic above is relatively self-explanatory I thought I would include how it came to be. In the military, I was trained as an observer, to be able to render an event in an ordered fashion, remaining aware of things like time, placement of people, resources, equipment and events. It is important because your life may depend on what happened in what order and a decision based on those observations can be critical. When I began working as a civilian with the police department, I discovered the ability of the average person to observe events varied widely.

Most people are NOT trained to be aware of how events unfold and during an interview with twenty people regarding an event, you will have twenty different accounts. This is why the police will take statements from everyone they can AND gather evidence to piece together what actually took place.

This is a similar process to what is done for news reporting except with one vital variation: The news grows less effective, less accurate and more distorted the further you are from the event. The best event is one where the journalist (the supposed objective and trained observer) sees it and hopefully without bias reports the event as it happens. Of course, film helps but is no guarantee of objectivity. But once the reporter has done their job, the news is subjected to an potential array of forces, postive and negative:

  • The editor is the first force that controls what is important is and how it is portrayed. They may decide to not report the event or to change the emphasis of the event.
  • The company’s particular slant on the news. If they have a company bias, or an organizational bias, the news article’s commentary may not reflect the event.
  • If it is an issue of national security, it may never see the light of day at all. The military may control what is seen or heard or may send misinformation if its in the “best interest of the nation.”
  • There may also be the conversion of news to propaganda if it serves national or corporate interests to do so.
  • The effectiveness of these tactics may also be augmented by the number of times the news is repeated, repetition is believed to build credibility even if it isn’t true.
  • Resonance is how news may be interpreted by viewers/readers with extensive backgrounds. Their interpretations can either cloud or make clear, important topics to the layreader.
  • Amplitude is the quality of that news service overall. Do they or are they known for producing news that is accurate, high quality and respected by others journalists, organisations or readers.

These six forces are the primary forces affecting our news today. As such, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know who is telling you what and why. So my advice is simple. TRUST NO ONE. Verify everything you can with as many reputable sources as you can. Treat news like you would Wikipedia. Everyone who writes in it isn’t your friend, or knowledgeable or for that matter has an objective point of view.

The hidden agendas of corporate media can lead to strange manipulations of how events may be seen. The chief force in this transformation of news media has been the 24 hour news cycle. Forced to report on news all day long, has made the media, hungry for topics, and often less responsible in these days of needing more news and having less staff, less resources and more responsibility for the bottom line.

News is supposed to hold people long enough for them to see commercials. That is the reality of your news corporations. It’s the primary reason news has become more like info-tainment rather than information.

Unfortunately, much of the world’s events, things that should make it into the mediasphere are instead hidden either as state secrets or corporate secrets held in collusion, often with the consent of governments.

I have watched as:

  • Information that should be in the mainstream media remains unseen or minimally reported
  • Information is watered down with less pertinent facts, personal opinion or through distribution agencies removing news elements via their corporate requirements.
  • Events that should be covered are completely ignored and only covered on smaller networks.
  • Events that have less significance are given greater news coverage.
  • Information from events is covered up, hidden or declared a state secret preventing it from becoming news for general consumption.

I am so suspicious of news media these days, I check and double check information I see everywhere. But since no source is perfect, it is good to have a variety of places to go to. Here is my short news source list. I will add to it when I get a moment. Share yours or dispute mine…

I am open to hearing how you think news-washing is accomplished and what we can do to get more news that isn’t in the hands of megacorporations or billionaires who control media, lock, stock and barrel. The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to be and remain informed. With that in mind, I want to close with an awesome monologue from The Newsroom. How many of the facts that get rattled off do YOU know personally? Brace yourselves. Reality isn’t pretty.

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