I am a news junkie. I read five newspapers each morning, not from cover to cover, but from screen to screen.
My favorite time of the week is early Sunday morning. I get the big thick Sunday newspaper (that’s a news Paper, not a news screen!), crawl in it, and read my way out of it!
I watch the evening TV news broadcasts and listen to National Public Radio, “Morning Edition” in the morning, and “All Things Considered” in the late afternoon.
I watch some 24/7 cable news, but not much, for reasons I will explain below.
But as a news junkie, I have reached a sad conclusion. We have too much news, and too little journalism.
We now live in a world of 24/7 and “breaking news.” Social media gives us hundreds of on-line newspapers. Well, not newspapers, but news platforms.
A few years ago I was enjoying dinner with one of my favorite columnists, Sam Venable, of the Knoxville News Sentinel. When I told Sam how much I enjoyed his columns, he grumbled, “Thanks, Bill, but these days, every idiot with a blog thinks he is a columnist.”
I laughed and replied, “Yes, Sam, and I am one of those idiots!”
As one of those idiots who thinks he is a columnist, let me express an opinion free of charge: We have too much news and too little journalism.
24/7 TV news consists mostly of screaming heads, whether it be Tucker Carlson on Fox News or “Morning Joe” Scarborough on MSNBC. They don’t report the news, they tell us their thoughts about it. And they often yell us their thoughts.
Walter Cronkite concluded his nightly news broadcasts saying, “That’s the way it is!” But he never added, “and if you disagree, you are wrong!”
Many viewers tune in only to cable news networks that reinforce their own views. I have friends and family members who turn on Fox News in the morning and leave it on all day. I know others that do the same with MSNBC or CNN. And when they do, they insulate themselves from other points of view, living in a cable TV news echo chamber.
While I hope I am not part of the problem, social media “news” is even less newsworthy than 24/7 cable news. Social media “journalists” post anything, often with little regard for the truth. And they often do it anonymously with no accountability.
This isn’t journalism, it isn’t even entertainment. It is e-ranting.
No wonder our nation is so divided.
And so as one of those idiot bloggers who thinks he is a columnist, let me conclude my own e-rant today with this recommendation: Read and watch and listen to the news to be informed and even challenged in your views. Avoid the screaming talking heads news shows. Read a number of newspapers and columnists with different points of view. I regularly read columns by conservative Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal and Ross Douthat of the New York Times. I also read liberals Nicholas Kristoff and Gail Collins in the New York Times, and of course Sam Venable in the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Seek points of view other than your own. And don’t believe everything you read unless you are reading BillHaltom.com.
As Walter Cronkite said, “That’s the way it is!”