Context is important with news

Context is key to understanding. It enables one to understand why a change or news item is important and when people are masking over a problem or blowing smoke.

Here are a few examples of why context matters:

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook testified to Congress of his concerns of privacy of data. He may say he is concerned, but his business model is to sell access to your data to marketers. Unless that model changes, our data will be exposed. Facebook was told to address these privacy issues five years ago and failed to act. It may be a new company, but it has learned to feign concern like an old one.

Football helmets are very high tech these days to soften the impact of blows to the head during this violent game. Yet, no matter how much cushion is offered, the problem is they cannot stop the fact the brain rattles around inside the head when it is struck. Unless football outlaws head hits, the game may have to require players to sign a waiver acknowledging the potential damage before they play and youth tackle football may be banned.

The changes needed in governments are obvious to many, including the legislators. But, they won’t happen. Why? Change will not occur if the people who need to make it are too aligned with what needs to be changed. Politicians are too enamored with keeping their job to actually do their job. Money matters too much in these equations.

Let me close with a final example. There is a difference between someone who does the right thing 19 times out of 20, but screws up one time versus someone where the opposite is more true. The one error for the first person may be similar to one of the second person, but they deserve a closer look. I have seen good people fired because managers ignored this kind of math. Context is key.

20 thoughts on “Context is important with news

  1. Excellent post, Keith. Your example featuring legislators explains why those people must never be trusted to frame constitutional revisions – even though they must pass them.

    • Thanks John. Our Congress spends 40% of their time fundraising across the street calling lists of possible donors. It is hard to do the people’s business when you only spend 60% of the time. One change would be cut their pay by 40% under the premise we aren’t paying to hit us up for money. Money has corrupted politics. Until we reduce its impact, it always will. Keith

      • You are so right and that is a scandal in every democracy. The pay cut sounds good.

      • That would be just fabulous. Then they could be reminded of the fat tax cut they received.

  2. Note to Readers: I tried to avoid using examples for the man in the White House, so at least I made it to the comments. Here goes. Why do people who follow this man fail to observe that he is the lone constant in many accusation of lies, many denigrations of critics, predecessors or other leaders, many demonizations of the media and much of the chaos and miscommunications. At some point, they need to realize there is a reason for this constancy. He brings it on himself.

    • “Why do people who follow this man…”

      I think many of these people actually do “observe” his fascist behaviors, but don’t care. They’ve been trained like Pavlov’s dog to hate and fear Liberalism, which for them is far worse. Many of these individuals are obsessed with one issue, like guns or abortion. I work with a lot of far-right conservatives, and I’m hearing “Well, I voted for the lesser of two evils.” That’s their justification at this stage of the game.

      • Pete, the one thing Trump is good at is merchandising himself. He preyed on people’s fears and blamed specific things for all their troubles, which greatly oversimplified problems or were just exagerations.

        Respected CBS journalist Lesley Stahl said in an interview yesterday with also respected PBS journalist Judy Woodruff that Trump told her during the campaign he demeans the media so that in case they say bad things about him, people won’t believe them. We knew this already, but to hear that he said that is akin to his shooting someone on 5th Avenue remark. Keith

      • Yes, Trump’s amplified the “liberal media bias” accusations that the right-wing has been leveling for years, and taken it a step further with his frequent “fake news” insinuations. I’m reading a book now, “How Democracies Die,” which explains how this tactic is used by authoritarian leaders stretching from Hugo Chavez to Joesph Goebbels. America isn’t there yet, but we’re testing the waters.

      • Pete, when I hear him and others blame Dems for criticism of him, my response is John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Lindsey Graham are not Democrats. Several conservative journalists like Brooks, Gerson, Will, Douthat are not Democrats. More Republicans need to grow a backbone and speak up. Keith

  3. Great post, Keith! Without the context, one has less than half the story. Rather like the child whose mother says, “You may have a cookie, after you clean your room.” The kid goes into the kitchen and takes a cookie. Our elected leaders are taking a heck of a lot of cookies these days.

    • Jill, good example. I was thinking today about what my friend calls “cafeteria Christians,” who select bible verses out of context to demonize or support the right to discriminate. As former President and long time Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter said, people need to remember the overall message rather than specific verses. He was addressing how certain verses could be used to restrict the rights of women, which he said is a shame. Keith

      • Ahhhh yes … cherry-picking the Bible just like some are cherry-picking the Constitution. I see a lot of those that call themselves evangelicals these days. All life is sacred, but … capital punishment is okay. And kids getting killed in schools is okay. I best not step up on this soapbox, for it is one I can get carried away and overstay my welcome. đŸ˜‰

      • Jill, you are always welcome to hang around. What Carter pointed out in his book “A Call to Action” about the rights of women, are biblical examples used to support the second class citizenry of women. I used the example where a minister told an abused wife it was her fault her husband beat her. That is criminal in my mind. Keith

      • I haven’t read Carter’s book … I should check that out. He was/is a class act. Yes, that minister made me see red, as did one a few days ago that basically told women in general to ‘suck it up’ … no, those weren’t his exact words, but were the gist of it. Will we ever come completely out of the dark ages?

      • Jill, just like people from all walks of life, there are good ministers and less good ones. You have read this from before, but all religious texts were written, edited, and translated by “imperfect men.” Both of those words should be emphasized. Keith

  4. Dear Keith,

    The problem with context right now is that President and his GOP cronies in the White House and the US congress, the context stinks. With few exceptions, they are acting by attacking the rule of law via disparaging the DOJ and the FBI, minimizing the president’s penchant for falsehoods, minimizing the effect of his racism, bullying, misogyny, anti even legal immigration, erratic foreign policies having to do with countries directly buying favoritism, etc., etc.

    They have decided that keeping their jobs/ collection plate filled with big donors’ monies takes precedence over honoring their oath of office.

    They are “THE FREELOADERS.”

    Hugs, Gronda

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