Be mindful of your news media sources

We are a nation divided. We must find one another again. We must engage in dialogue rather than talking past one another. We must be mindful of our news media sources of information.

While we mourn over horrible tragedies like the police shootings, the too common Black deaths occurring at the hands of police or the mass shooting or terrorist tragedies, we tend to look for simple answers and culprits to blame. We have grown too accustomed to moments of silence and are reluctant to have needed dialogue around underlying reasons and possible solutions.

Our childish political polarization stands in the way of that dialogue and it truly must come to an end. We must task our leaders to stop their zero-sum antics of “I win/ you lose” and start leading. And, as citizens, it is incumbent on us to be truly informed with uncomfortable data.

Right now, we tend to get our information from biased sources that tell us what we want to hear. Or, we may get it from shallow or conflicted sources that gloss over a news story and miss key points or may not cover a story at all as it is not entertaining.

We live in a country of opportunity, but not all get a fair shot at that opportunity. Our problems are complex, especially around gun deaths. The causes include poverty, lack of education, crime filling the void of opportunity, lack of mental health access, entertainment violence, inherent bigotry, and gun access, e.g. Our biases predispose us to a gut level reaction, when we should guard against that.

At the heart of the matter, violence is not the answer and should not be condoned. Violence against those here to protect us is even more abhorrent. But, we should not lose sight that violence against our Black and Brown citizens is occurring with too much frequency.

Let’s start talking and listening to one another. And, let’s be truly informed from reputable news sources and not from our own echo chamber. Otherwise, we will miss the point.




19 thoughts on “Be mindful of your news media sources

  1. I find the “I win… you lose” comment intriguing because the concept seems ingrained in the American culture.
    You had a President who is quoted as saying “You are either with us, or you are against us!” The concept of neutrality was somehow lost in the options.
    I have met a number of Americans who, after asking me my opinion on something and I reply “It’s okay I guess.” respond with “So you hate it?” My response to that would usually be “No. I just don’t like it too much.” which again generates a “So you hate it!” in the form of a conclusion.
    Somewhere in your culture there appears to be a tendency to see the world in black and whites, and that really is not so good!

    • Your comment about dialing up your sentiment of not caring for something to hating it is profound. Just because we don’t rave about something, does not mean we hate it. When I say I don’t agree with someone on an issue, someone who hears this may say “I thought you liked so and so.” I do, I just don’t agree with him or her on this point.

  2. and it doesn’t help that the presumptive republican nominee continues to spew hateful rhetoric. I am positive that this has contributed to much of the violence. And I was just thinking yesterday, good gawd we still have 4 more months of this to go 😦 The election can’t come any sooner.

    By the way, Philando Castile could have been my neighbor. He was killed about a mile from where I work. There are a few religious services happening this weekend in honor of him and I’m hoping to get in to the one this evening. I have a feeling it’s going to be packed. Anyway, I have had a rough time dealing with this one in particular. While I know the Twin Cities police aren’t perfect, I didn’t expect this to happen in my neighborhood. I am heartsick 😦

  3. It is difficult to find a truly quality and neutral news source. I pretty much stick with NPR but those on the right would say that it is too liberal. I guess if one isn’t hearing exactly what one agrees with 100% of the time, the source is suspect. Good post, Keith.

    • Janis, NPR is superb. I find them very in-depth and fairly even-handed. See my response to Linda on Fox’s marketing spin to woo viewers. Fox and the GOP have been very successful in moving the median to the right, so that moderate left looks more liberal than it is and moderate right got squeezed out along with collaboration. Thanks for your thoughts, Keith

  4. Awesome statement, Keith! Like Colin, that I win/you lose… is very profound! I too think the wrong things are discussed. It is about the people not about any political directions, laws, rights,… or whatever. If we simply understand that we need each other and that everyone has the same needs – to live and to be loved – something will change and such idiotic discussions are not needed anymore.

    • Erika, it is the people and the issues affecting them. I think if I were Speaker of the House, Parliament, etc., I would mix up the seating the chart so parties did not sit together. I would say on this room, your party is secondary to your role to govern. Things need to be stirred up. But, we must limit the money in politics as well. Thanks for your thoughts. Keith

      • That is an awesome thought, Keith! Yes, that is what politics should be. They are a longer hand of the people in the country and not only a puppet of their party. Amazing thought indeed!

  5. I know I’m guilty of listening to and reading the sources that speak to my beliefs. But those are also the sources I trust. They seem balanced because they at least ask questions and give the other side a chance to speak. But I’m sure Fox News aficionados would say the same thing about their news sources. We really have lost the ability to debate issues, to open ourselves to the possibility that if we listen, we may have to change our minds.

    • Linda, if a news source is asking legitimate questions and has genuine experts on a subject to discuss something and require them to be civil, then that would be a good source. PBS Newshour, BBC World News America and NPR are in this category. Fox calls itself “Fair and Balanced,” but is the most biased source in America of any acclaim. One of the dilemmas is Fox and the GOP paint all other sources as liberal media, which is their strategy to gain audience. MSNBC had tried to replicate their bias on the liberal end, but not to the same success, as more liberally minded folks seem to be open to more even-handed sources.

      I find the major networks too sensational and not in-depth and CNN will gnaw on an event sometimes making it bigger than it is. I stumbled into DW, which is English speaking news out of Germany. The only show I saw was good, but I don’t know if it leans anyway. Keep watching and reading, Keith

      • I have an American friend (married to a German) who lives and works in Germany as a “talking head” explaining American policy to German audiences. He is frequently interviewed and taped on panel discussions for DW. Unfortunately, those are usually in German, but next time I get an English language one, I’ll send it your way.

      • Linda, I would love to see that. They had a Black professor in Germany trying to explain the shootings on the show I watched. He did a nice job. Keith

  6. Note to Readers: There are a number of multi-faith religious efforts and groups who are engaging in community dialogues. These show sincere effort to reach out to others. I went to several last year and they are well done. I encourage others to look out for them in their communities.

  7. The last time I felt this tension in the air was right before 911 and it was on the heels of a crazy election. The difference now is people are not uniting after hearing the news of horrific tragic events around the country, they are becoming more divided. Why? Is it the continuous message we’ve been fed throughout this presidency? The escalated message we’ve been fed throughout this election marathon? I’m off to my Quaker Meeting this morning where I hope to find some peace for my soul.

    • Lisa, I hope your meeting gives you comfort and peace. I think we can trace this back to “targeted so-called” news where people believe what the echo chamber tells them. I think it is leveraged by targeted politics which creates this we/ they mentality. Using the metaphor of the day, we should not be building walls, we should be building bridges. Thanks, Keith

  8. Note to Readers: I have posted a variation of this comment on several wonderful posts on this topic. Some of the themes are repeated above:

    We need to listen to each other and not talk past one another. We need to check the zero sum games of “I win/ you lose” partisan politics and task our leaders with solving the problem. Violence is not the answer. Civil discussion and interaction is. We must not condone leaders who foam at the mouth with bigoted, racist and xenophobia comments as that makes the problems worse not better, as they demonize groups.

    We are all biased. We all have predispositions that we must guard against. As a 57 year-old white man, I can pretty much go anywhere I want without repercussions and do not fear for life when stopped by a patrolman. The same freedom does not exist for a Black man even when dressed in his Sunday best. Even when polite and moving slowly, the thought that “this may be the last thing I do in my life” goes through his head.

    I encourage everyone to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” which talks about how we can be influenced to act based on our sub-conscious set of experiences. In it he speaks of the example sung about by Bruce Springsteen in “American Skin (41 Shots)” about how a Brown-skinned man who did not speak English ran from police as he did not know who they were and was shot 41 times on a stoop.

    In the movie “South Pacific,” written as a veiled critique of the Jim Crow era in an island far away, Oscar Hammerstein song lyrics are profound even today.

    “You have to be carefully taught by the time you are seven or eight,
    to hate the people your parents hate. You have to be carefully taught.”

    Bigotry and bias exist, even when not extreme. My suggestion to parents is you decide what to teach your kids, but remember your actions teach them more than anything. A few off-the-cuff remarks can undo progress when witnessed by impressionable kids.

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