It’s not exactly a secret that our news institutions and press in general have… shall we say, slipped somewhat from the supposed goal of impartiality and objectivism when it comes to a pretty wide array of topics. I personally don’t understand why people can take the majority of what goes on Fox News or MSNBC seriously, and I nearly spit out my water at the gym during the Mueller Investigation when CNN was basically running through a “Baby’s First Propaganda Techniques” primer during a largely unrelated story, flashing images of Trump alternating with those of the Kremlin.
What gets weird about it isn’t necessarily the big issues for me, but the smaller ones, or the ones that don’t seem to be something that would matter in particular to the news institution in question.
For example: The BBC clearly hates American gun laws. A lot. Functionally any shooting that makes the news here in the States pops up on BBC.com, and not just in their “US & Canada” page. I mean, it’s not surprising, given the general antipathy of the United Kingdom towards firearms in general (or at least, the general antipathy of the people running the country), but the threshold for what makes the front page seems to be pretty low for events occurring in an entirely different country, on an entirely separate continent, “Special Relationship” or no.
Here’s a weirder one: Someone at Reuters hates Elon Musk. I mean, to the point of interjecting a jab at the man in basically any article that involves him in any fashion, and it’s borderline pathological in its consistency. An article on SpaceX and a recent successful launch? Rest assured there will be a paragraph in the article describing how Tesla is rumored to be in trouble, or how Musk is driving his employees insane, or something downright personal at times, and I cannot fathom why. Sure, we all have people we hate, and Elon Musk does possess a variety of unlikeable traits, ranging from his propensity to over-promise and fail to meet self-declared deadlines, to his borderline-huckster performances when declaring potential uses of some upcoming product.
Elon, seriously, I love what you’re doing, but nobody is gonna be replacing airliners with rockets. Probably ever. Even if you lick the reliability issue, there’s still the whole “launch can kill you if you’re sufficiently unfit” issue, the “rockets are earth-shatteringly loud” issue, and the security and safety nightmare of riding around on a multi-kiloton bomb issue, sitting like a cherry on top of the “this ain’t happening” sundae.
Now, people electing to have their cars drive around autonomously and put Uber out of business, that I can see, though I suspect it won’t turn out to be a popular option until you’ve got cars coming out in more of the Honda Civic price range rather than the BMW 3-series and up. People that can afford your cars currently probably won’t be too enthused about the idea of having strangers riding around in them, particularly when Boston Dynamics has yet to deliver an autonomous vomit-cleaning robot.
But I digress.
Regardless of all that, there’s probably more reasons to like Elon Musk than not, or at least reasons to hope for his commercial success than not, at the very least. In the long run, electric vehicles are a good thing, cheap spaceflight is a good thing, easily accessible global high-speed internet is a good thing, solar panels that don’t look like solar panels perching on your roof like some sort of cubist gargoyle is a good thing (assuming Tesla ever actually starts selling the things), and yes, I’m aware of the fact that part of his huckster routine is banking on people like me who’d rather see him succeed than fail, but still.
What the hell Reuters?
We all know that victors write the history books, or at least they did until the history department got overrun with guilty self-styled progressives, but someone needs to get out there and tell the press that their job isn’t to write the news, it’s to report it.
And yes, there’s a bloody difference.
Impartiality comes with the job. Hell, it defines the job; you’re a report-er, i.e. one who reports, and you can squawk all you like about how all views are subjective and therefor reality itself can only be perceived subjectively and you’ll still be doing your job wrong unless you make every effort to be as objective as possible.
You wanna be a writer, be a writer. A storyteller, someone who weaves truth and fiction into a fine tapestry and calls it art, but don’t pretend that you’re a reporter if you’re letting your personal biases filter into your work. Don’t wave your press card at me, wrap yourself in unearned sanctity, and then give me your opinion.
I don’t need your opinions, I have my own, thanks. If I want yours, I’ll go check the Op-Ed page, where I expect to find them, because those people, quite frankly, are writers, not reporters.
I myself have been known to write about current events, in extraordinarily rare cases in a fashion timely enough that one could almost interpret it as reporting current events, but I’d never call myself a reporter.
I mean, I have enough difficulty referring to what I do as writing, given the whole “not getting paid to do it” part of the equation. This is a blog, technically making me a blogger, and that means that anything you read here should be taken with a grain of salt (or possible an entire shaker sometimes), and that what you’re seeing is my take on the issue, not necessarily an objective take.
I may strive for objectivity, but it’s not my job. Which makes it depressing for me when I realize that I’m probably doing it better than people who get paid to do it, at least in theory.
Because without impartiality, without objectivity, we don’t have a free press. We don’t have a press at all; we have competing propaganda machines, churning out their version of “the Truth”, specifically engineered to enthrall or enrage, depending on the audience. Either one works, after all, so long as they tune in, buy the magazine, or click on the link.
A story to suit everyone, and an industry that serves no one.