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article imageNews Dilemma: Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

By Carol Forsloff     Jan 4, 2010 in Lifestyle
Since man put stick to dirt and stone to walls in caves, he has recorded news. These days, however, the dilemma is to lead, follow or get out of the way and which direction should newscasters go.
Visit any public gathering these days, and the news is discussed. Along with it comes a diatribe about the media. It is either too liberal or too conservative. It is said to say little or far too much. It talks about the mundane yet focuses too much on tragedy. Good news isn't reported, folks say, but statistics show folks follow stories of drama instead. All of this exacerbates the dilemma facing most purveyors of news which is to be fact-producing and let the proverbial chips fall or find new and creative ways to satisfy an ever-changing public whose attention span grows shorter every day.
Some commentators comment on solutions, but that's a comment as well, as if there were one direction we could all embrace, i.e. public and those who attempt to satisfy public taste. Instead, perhaps, the better way is simply to be as open about it as folks might consider for faith. That's this: many paths, many interests, many directions, because man has many ways, many tastes and many ideas; and one way isn't satisfying for all.
Here's a suggestion from one caught in the dilemma so many times, trying to fill such changing tastes, opinions and moods and coming up empty in trying. Media sources often declare theirs is the unbiased truth, when indeed each one has its own audience and cultural viewpoints as well. Admit it, I say. If you're Huffington say at the top of your post, "we're liberal and will give you that taste." If you're Fox in some form, declare this, "I like to make money in all ways I can, so thanks for giving me more." with the signature below, "Always, your Rupert Murdoch bias." That way we can be angry or joyous instead, depending upon our political views and which treatise we read.
Reporters can lead by giving the news and then advice after that. So after reading about weather, the reader will get what to wear, where to go, what to do. That's for those who want direction in news and don't want to think for themselves.
Writers can just give facts, but what facts after all? An adjective here, an adverb there, and a sentence will change in its meaning. The facts themselves, and the details within, are unique depending on view. Those who look at a scene from the front will have a different perspective than a sideline view. A reporter can interview several people at the scene of an accident, each with a different opinion and voice. The decision then becomes which voice to use, what view to select.
The dilemma is there, and will always be there, as long as there's news to report. So if you create news than the dilemma continues about whether to follow, to lead or get lost. And if you are the reader, your dilemma is this: do you need a leader or want to be one. If the latter's the choice, read it all.
More about Huffington Post, Fox, Rupert Murdoch