Ever since the lion began roaring in Culver City, the news media has been undergoing technological changes in the way news has been rendered to the public.
Obituaries that once contained detailed descriptions of the way the deceased died, often accompanied by gruesome details, are no longer written with the cause of death included.
Also, the practice of using anonymous news sources for attribution has increased readership disbelief that facts are being reported accurately.
Often reporters from news outlets who are in competition to break the news first make honest mistakes that often lead to retractions that the media tend to bury.
Rushing to judgment has proven to be a fatal flaw in many national news stories.
One needs only to speak to the Duke lacrosse coach who lost his job because of the false rape allegations that a woman made against some of his players to realize the harm that can come from reporters rushing to judgment.
After the harm has been done, none can truthfully yell, “No harm, no foul!”
Looking back to Watergate and the way the story unfolded on national TV, Americans were bombarded daily with tidbits from the story, and when there was no breaking news, the television stations kept the story alive in the minds of its viewers by showing an image of Watergate followed by, “No breaking news on Watergate.”
Driving home news via a daily drumbeat to advance a political agenda has often led to injustices being perpetrated and perpetuated.
In President Richard M. Nixon’s situation, the break-in of the Democrat Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel by President Nixon’s operatives may not have led to President Nixon stepping down as President had he not engaged in the coverup that included the removal of an incriminating section of a taped recording from the Oval Office.
Then there was that rush to judgment at the University of Virginia where a fraternity lost its right to operate because of an alleged gang rape that was reported in the national news to have taken place inside the fraternity house.
The rush to judgment by the media in that case also caused harm to those accused despite the fact that the charges were bogus.
Before and during the Robert Muller investigation of President Donald J.Trump’s alleged collusion with Latimer Putin to help him win the 2016 election, the drumbeat throughout the nation echoed the message, “Trump is a Russian operative.”
The Christopher Steele dossier that was touted by some national media outlets as containing incriminating evidence against Trump proved to have been made up of unsubstantiated allegations concocted by operatives involved in Hilary Clinton’s campaign.
Thus, the term, “fake news,” became Trump’s battle cry along with many of his followers.
Thankfully, there remains reputable media striving to present the news in an unbiased way, but the reader’s task of separating fiction from nonfiction has become much more difficult to discern.
With the increased reliance on social media as a news source and the trickery of photoshopping alive and well in America, one can only hope that those who consume the news will seek to enter the domain of no spin.
Ray Allen is the Editor of the Virginian Review. Mr Allen received his A.B. degree in English and physical education (1963) and M.A. degree in secondary education (1965) from Morehead State University before earning his M.F.A. degree in theatre arts from UCLA (1980) where he majored in writing for motion pictures and television. He retired as an educator in 2004, having taught 11 subjects and having coached five varsity sports during his 41-year-career that led him to teach and coach in Ky., Mich., Calif. and Va.