Thoughts on Media Bias, Flooding the Zone and Where to go From Here.

black and red typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Hello out there. I just wanted to commend any readership I have out there. I did not receive any negative blowback from my last post about racism. Quite frankly, it would be good riddance if I did.  Generally, I don’t watch followers. It’s typical to have a few drop off here and there, and maybe add a few others, so If I did lose anyone over words the stats seemed unremarkable.

I don’t want to just offer up one post about racism and think, “Well that’s it. I’ve done my good deed.” I also don’t want to feel any pressure to meet any kind of quota, for what is the appropriate amount of time to talk about racism. Personally, I don’t want to see the momentum on this to die down. I am all about building a new society because the current one is not working out for a lot of people. I am embarrassed to say that mostly I keep my “political views” to Facebook. Embarrassed because I don’t want people to accuse me of being a boomer, and because “political” seems like the wrong word. I’d like to think that if one opposes racism and is committed to doing the work, that is just called being a decent person.

Yeah, I am one of those people that has issues with Mark Zuckerberg and I feel that platform is radio silent. Trust me, I am way more intense on other platforms than this one. I’ve even been getting the impression lately that I may even be too intense for some people. I’d say that this blog is a less concentrated version of other platforms I have out there. I read an article yesterday that indicated that Zuck’s platform coddles more to the alt. right while other accounts swing the other way. Frankly, I’d like to pull the plug on FB but it would seem like leaving everything to the wolves and how would I watch something like “Plandemic” so I could shake my head and call it out for the crazy sauce that it is. It is all very toxic. So completely and utterly toxic.

I am really trying to find the best way to keep my voice without losing myself if that makes sense. I have three media accounts because I was told I needed them for a social media for writers class. I guess you could say I have 5 total media accounts if I’m counting WordPress and Pinterest. I have still not harnessed the beast between my media accounts and my writing, and there’s a fine line between using social media as a tool and having it become a distraction to one’s own detriment.

I tell you what, trying to be one of those people who constantly feels compelled to stay informed is exhausting. It’s like a self perpetuating cyclic beast. To think at one time, I was trying to decide if I should declare my major to be creative writing or journalism. It is a beast of a world out there for journalists. To be honest, I feel like sometimes I do a lot of journaling and research for free and I wish that I could channel that somehow. I respect journalists, especially those who are meticulous about maintaining integrity, avoiding biases and fact checking. I feel they are crucial to checks and balances but oh boy howdy can anyone give themselves a platform these days and call themselves news when really they are entertainment. I’m all about free speech I just wish there was a better way to categorize it.

I’d rather not do that tango with journalism but lately I’ve been deeply intrigued by Op-Eds and ghost writing. Like, I can respect OpEds because they call themselves what they are. Yet, just recently we have found out how dangerous OpEds can be with a recent post that was put out by Tom Cotton in The New York Times. A question was put forth about the morality of posting opposing conflicting view points but at what sacrifice if they are not properly vetted and based on immoral unfounded ignorance? Also, this raises the question: “They should be vetted by whom?”  In an ideal world that would be ourselves.

I do have my biases, we all do, and I look at a lot of what is out there with a critical eye. Sometimes I will be like, “Wow, such and such is really putting out a lot of good stuff lately,” and at other times I will be like what the F is this publication doing?

I can tell you who I have been impressed with on writing lately, and this can change. I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of good stuff coming from The Atlantic and surprisingly enough, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. I’ve been really impressed with PolitiFact’s reporting on the Corona virus. I’ve been quite impressed with CNN’s  Covid tracking map updated with info provided by John Hopkins University.

I am unimpressed with CNN for other reasons because I feel they have a “poke the bear” approach to journalism. They love to antagonize the President and this back and forth between them and the President makes me feel like I’m in a home with squabbling parents in a custody battle and I’d just rather not be witness to it. I used to like The Nation but realized they are far too biased for me. If I have a left leaning news source that I favored it would be Democracy Now. If I had a right leaning source I favored it would be The Hill. Semi-conservative, but I think they do try hard to remain fair.

As far as local news, I have the ever conservative Mormon newspaper, The Deseret News, the Utah County conservative Daily Herald, and the somewhat more liberal Salt Lake Tribune at my disposal. Personally, I am favoring KSL news for their straightforward no-nonsense reporting on the Corona. However, this week their reporting on the spike in Corona Virus cases in Utah had me disappointed.  While reporting this spike they showed an image of Salt Lake City protestors, and I found that to be misleading. There’s this thing called an “incubation period.” There’s no way the spike in cases we have been experiencing over the last week is due to the recent protests. Those numbers remain to be seen.

I would also like to add that I have seen more mask wearers at these protests, than I ever see at the grocery store. I do have to respect KSL for suing for the obtainment of the names of businesses in Utah County where Corona virus case hot beds have broken out. So far, that information is being kept from the public.

I used to follow Eco Watch and some of it was good information but I realized that this was a source of Eco news that was contributing to a lot of my anxiety. Give or take, neither here or there, depending on the day and the information that is being put out some of my other news picks would be The New York Times, The BBC, and The Washington Post. I do think that The Brookings Institution and ProPublica do occasionally pull out some very fine stuff, that often goes unnoticed.

So that is it folks. If we are going to judge people these days on here or there, left-right and yada-yada this is where I get a lot of my information. I wish relationships were not built upon such things. I personally feel you can tell quite a lot about a person by what they are reading. I wish this were not so. I am willing to bet that if someone is deeply entrenched in Fox, or OAN, then eventually something might come up on this blog that would make one squeamish and perhaps this is not the blog for them. I just wanted to lay that out there.

I also think it is really good for everyone to acknowledge their biases because they exist. I was personally taught to be wary of things that have a strong media bias. One should view a strong media bias as a red flag. I have found this tool  be helpful for myself and I will cite it below, although I must acknowledge that I probably need to take another trip to Owl Purdue to cite most accurately. Generally, if I want to check the bias of a news source I will google the news source with the word “bias” and it will generally lead me to this site.

If you click on the link I provided, you will see that I’ve googled ProPublica and a detailed report is given. For those who don’t want to jump there, ProPublica has a rating of Left-Center with a factual reporting of High, with Very High being the highest rating one can get. The detailed report provides a history of the publication, who they are funded by, and provides an analysis for why a certain score was given.

Anyway, I found these to be useful resources, and I do have a lot of work to do also to keep myself in check. I am completely aware that my love for Democracy Now has a Left Bias with a High for factual reporting. I am relieved to know that the media source Eco Watch, which was giving me a great deal of anxiety, has been rated mixed for factual reporting with a Mild conspiracy level, and a Strong Pseudo-Science level. I can let that one go without feeling one damn bit guilty and breathe easier.

If I had a crazy wish during this time it would be that I wish more people would do their homework. I feel a lot of polarity and dangerous extremism out there would be alleviated if more people would quite simply do their homework. I am not about censorship, and I think that freedom of speech is a right, but for heaven’s sakes I wish more people would realize that rights come with responsibilities.

In an ideal world, “news sources” would just give themselves the appropriate labels: entertainment, conspiracy, “pseudo-science” or whatever. Anyone can be given a microphone and a platform and call themselves news, and quite frankly I feel there are far too many un-educated people out there, and this is the perfect storm.

I also want to add that I am so against what I am seeing out there with news in regard to “flooding the Zone with sh*t” One must be really mindful of what are the most hot and pressing issues over which ones are designed to distract. Our good ‘ole President is a MASTER at this. One of the main areas where I will attribute him with “brilliance.” Although, this tactic was most masterfully instigated by Steve Bannon.

crashing waves
Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

I also almost see “flooding the zone” happening with all this information that is suddenly being thrown our way about racism. It is great to have an endless supply of resources thrown our way, but to be honest, I wonder which information being thrown my way is the MOST valuable and what kind of important information is getting lost in the shuffle. It does appear to be a good problem to have, but for me, myself, I am feeling a little overwhelmed. I don’t want to quit, and I want this to be productive, but it does feel like there are so many hands in the stew right now that it’s almost unproductive. My well intentioned blog post to provide more resources could’ve been contributing to this problem and I hope that was not the case.

I have an inkling that most of you reading this are smart cookies and I appreciate that, and I’m probably preaching to the choir. I’ve also gone off track on my last few blog posts from my regular content but I feel there are important things to say. Also, I am doing some serious re-evaluating of my regular content. Like so many things, regular is just not cutting it anymore. Much of this has made me want to re-evaluate where I am going with my blog and even some of my other social media accounts like my Instagram account for instance.

I am feeling some pressure, like if I am not speaking out about social injustice, or just NOW speaking out about social injustice than I either 1). Don’t care about it or 2). I’m just coming onto the bandwagon for the sake of performative Allyship. I feel one of the things that is really hindering me with my writing is that I have not narrowed down my niche, and I haven’t really declared what my “brand” is which is hard for me because I think brands can be so superficial and somewhat limiting.

Also, I know many media influencers out there are getting called out because 1). Speaking out about racism is “off brand” for them 2). Why are you speaking out when you have never spoken out before? or 3). If you don’t speak out I am going to assume you don’t care and I will unfollow or whatever.

Personally, my Insta account is images of my family, or moments of peace that I find that I want to capture on film generally related to getting out in nature, and sometimes projects I am working on, and occasional food. I find that my blog is somewhat the same. Like, I don’t see anything exclusionary about my brand if this is my brand. Like, there is no race difference when it comes to my images of wildflowers. Yet, just because I don’t see it, does not mean that it is not there. I am considering how I can make all the above more inclusive.

Here are some things I have thought about:

  1. I have blogged a few times about Bears Ears because I love it, and frequent the place often, perhaps I could use this as an opportunity to talk more about what is happening with indigenous people there.
  2. I’ve not yet added music to my media stories, but WANT too. My music tastes are very diverse so this might be a great way to share.
  3. I could diversity my experience with food and how it’s sourced ethically. I also just read an article put out recently by The Salt Lake City Air Protectors that nails this concept on the head for me titled, “We don’t farm because it’s trendy; we farm as resistance, for healing, and sovereignty. Farming is not new to Black people.” I’d love to expand more on how permaculture, racism, and equality are intertwined.
  4. I could feature or follow other crafters, foodies, nature buffs, etc. who are diverse, indigenous, or people of color and build my community around that.
  5. I also want to just say I don’t feel “put out” that I would have to do the work to make this happen. I view inclusion as an opportunity and not a hinderance. I’m not going to set a restrictive quota for myself but I am going to try and do better. I think that setting a quota would be a hinderance because I’d become bound to the quota and not the cause. If one’s motivation for doing the appropriate thing is to have a quota to keep things legit or whatever over the actual cause or just being a decent person then they are in it for the wrong reasons.

This week has been eye opening and has given me much to think about and I thank any readership for allowing me to share this writer’s journey with you. All comments are welcome and I appreciate any and all input, especially if it is done in a constructive and respectful way.  I think I can get back to my regular content now but perhaps with some elevated level of mindfulness, awareness, and inclusiveness which I hope will be a good thing.  I think I am going to do further research on writing OpEds and pursuing ghost riding. It may fit me like a glove, or not. I’d welcome any input from anyone who has delved into either.

I’ve provided links about media bias here:

“AllSides Media Bias Chart.” AllSides. 2020. https://www.allsides.com/media-bias/media-bias-chart

Media Bias Fact Check LLC. Media Bias/Fact Check. https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/

I’ve also included an interesting link to an article I found about “flooding the zone with sh*t if anyone is interested: 

Illing, Sean. “Flood the zone with shit”: How misinformation overwhelmed our democracy.” Vox 6, February 2020. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/1/16/20991816/impeachment-trial-trump-bannon-misinformation

An excellent jumping off place about food sovereignty here:

Gripper, Ashley. “We don’t farm because it’s trendy: we farm as resistance, for healing, and sovereignty. Farming is not new to black people.” Environmental Health News. 27, May 2020. https://www.ehn.org/black-farming-food-sovereignty-2645479216.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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