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|The truth versus the news|
|Monday, 03 September 2012 20:12|
EVERY day we are bombarded with headlines from the various media outfits.
We are inundated with information in the print media, radio, television, internet and mobile phones.
Many of us may agree that readers are much more interested in bad news and scandals than they are in good news and spectacular achievements. Indeed, the bad news and scandals grab our attention in ways that excite and stimulate our interest.
Some of us may be tempted to read a headline and assume that the headline is reflective of the truth. Many times the headlines are placed there to grab our attention; and in some instances, the actual details of the article may present very different findings.
The reality is that we in Guyana are not unique in this regard. News publications around the world are replete with examples of sensational headlines.
One may ask why are they so often used , but the simple truth is that sensation sells.
In more practical terms, a sense of crisis is good business for news….Like sex, murder, corruption, intrigue – this is the sensationalism that sells! What helps circulation? Gossip, intrigue, scandal…It is all good business. Ask the publishers and editors of notorious local media houses.
Entertainment by sensationalising stories has driven outfits posing as media houses; and trial by media has become the bread and butter, with much cheese (pun intended) for our society. Not to pick on the soaps on TV these days….but they are a good example of the type of intrigue and issues that spark our interests.
Some headlines easily excite, inflame and seek to profess facts and truths with fictional twists, because these make a good sell, of course! Good circulation equals good business!
The problem is that society should be able to depend on media to filter out the chaff and provide the unvarnished, unprejudicial truth, because we should expect that when we read a headline or a story, we are reading work being presented after some clinical examination of fact and opinion and presented to us free from bias - or at least as free from bias as is possible. And if there is a mistake made, then it should be an honest mistake, with clarifications and an apology provided in a timely and conspicuous manner.
We know that plain truth without sensationalism does not sell, but do the perpetrators realise, or even care, about the extent to which the innuendoes, as Christopher Ram admitted to doing “conjectures”, as the publisher and editor of a local print media house admitted to doing, merely printing politicians’ accusations and destroying the characters of persons, the credibility of businesses and institutions, and ultimately the investment climate – not to mention the inhibition of developmental funding, are actually devastating our people and our country?
And although the headlines grab our attention, how many of us, in any effective way, are working to counteract their negative impacts on the nation?
The Latin expression, “Cum grano salis” is one that we as Guyanese should apply when assimilating our newscasts and items – a term which we are very familiar with: “With a grain of salt”, which urges us to look at local information dissemination with skepticism, suspicion and caution; to whit: Is the media outfit merely parading itself as a news agency? Does it have an agenda? If so, what may that agenda be?
So the public needs to ask of itself if it is buying news or entertainment, or the advertisers that support media houses.
Simply put, don’t rely on headlines alone for the source of information. Read more than one newspaper to get the facts, and then assimilate and judge for yourself the veracity of the contents.
One should not just read the headline and form an opinion. Read the story that follows; and before you form an opinion, make sure you examine as many other perspectives as you can find and then think critically about the issues before forming an opinion.
Because in Guyana, the truth is often stranger and most often, different, than the news reported
- Speaking with a concerted voice against this ‘naked vulgarity’
- Georgetown garbage scourge horrors
- Good news for our rice industry
- Those impeccable military standards
- Playing political football with the national interest
- Stable families make stable societies
- The dark practice of hypocrisy
- TVET assuming greater role in economic development
- A fine gesture to rice farmers
- Upholding the rights of the working class
- Of Motherhood and Nationhood
- Effective and proper drainage systems are vital
- An atrocity of uncivilised proportions
- Our continued economic success
- CHILD ABUSERS - simply monsters in human form
- The positives are visible
- Another record-breaking performance for the rice industry
- An unnecessary intervention
- Witter’s disdainful level of incivility
- The lawless mini-bus culture