2018-08-23 / Letters

Says News Is Not Fake Just “Highly Biased”

To The Editor:

Regarding the article in the 8/16/16 edition of the Fulton County News, titled “Real News from Real News Sources,” I read the article twice to ensure I understood the position the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association was putting forth as their defense against the term “fake news.” Their take on “fake news” was at best, self serving and at worst, scary, that they might actually believe what they wrote.

When any organization wishes to grade their performance, they typically reach out to their customers, usually through an independent polling or information data collection service. In this case their customers are their readers/viewers. In a March 2018 Politico poll, “More than 3 out of 4 of 803 American respondents, or 77 percent, said they believe that major traditional television and newspaper media outlets report fake news.” That should be sobering to all journalists.

So on one hand we have the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association declaring that they do not engage in “fake news” and on the other we have 77 percent of a random survey of news customers saying that they do. That is one heck of a disconnect! With that information in hand I would think the association’s members would take a step back and attempt to uncover why the readers do not agree with their conclusion.

I agree that some of the “fake news” can be relegated to mistakes. However, many of the “corrections” put forth by the newspapers end up buried deep in the paper and are rarely noted by most readers. My feelings are that a better term for what is happening with the news in our country can be summed up with the term “bias.”

The political bias in this country is deafening and is felt by everyone who reads and watches the news. It is well known that a majority of newspapers and TV news programs are owned/operated/staffed by left-leaning people. The news itself is not “fake,” but the spin that is put on the news and items purposely left out of reporting is highly biased.

It was always my understanding that a good reporter/journalist reported all of the facts and just the facts. Today the facts are typically spun toward a belief system (agenda if you will), one way or the other. Minor details can be left out, or sometimes just a word or two is left out or added, which changes the slant of the article to fit the agenda. It is time the media outlets allow us common folk to draw our own conclusions. I think you will find that we are smarter than you guys let on.

These are harsh words and I do not mean to offend, but it is time for the association to look outward and engage the people who claim “fake news” or “bias” and determine how they can change that perspective. When your customers tell you that they are unhappy with your product, your narrative should not be to tell them that you know best and that they, your customers, just don’t get it. It just might be time to take positive action to correct the perspective.

Gene Timberman

Editor’s Note: The Fulton County News fully supports the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association opinion piece on “fake news” published in last week’s issue. Few other businesses are called into account as publicly and quickly as newspapers are when errors are found. Print journalists routinely correct or clarify published errors and issue apologies in print, either in a regular spot that is easily accessible to the reader or in the section of the paper where the error ran. Here at the “News” corrections and clarifications can be found on Page 2A under “Clearing the Record.” However, this week’s correction appears here. The poll referred to in this letter to the editor was not conducted by Politico but by Monmouth University Polling Institute. The poll can be found in its entirety online at www.monmouth.edu/pollinginstitute/reports/monmouthpoll_us_040218 .

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