Whenever I used to go visit Gertrude, she would always resort to telling me a story about the good ol’ days. I would resort to hiding my eye roll while being cognizant of the fact that hopefully, I too would one day grow older and would be one of those people who might tell a story about days gone by.
I’m not as old as Gertrude was at the time, but go ahead and roll your eyes anyway. Here is my “good ol’ days” round-up.
Do you remember: When cartoons only came on Saturday mornings? When there were only four channels (and maybe PBS if the antenna was pointed in the right direction) on TV? When MTV played music videos? When national news outlets actually reported the news?
Those days were good. And those things are most certainly gone. Especially the last one, and that’s where the major news media started getting into trouble.
Let’s frame it like this… Remember when you were a kid and you got in trouble, and you would tell your parents certain “truthful” details while strategically omitting other details that would get you into more trouble? It wasn’t necessarily lying. It just wasn’t necessarily telling the whole truth.
That's essentially what our major news outlets do now (while tossing in an occasional outright lie). This is not a right wing/left wing, Republican or Democratic network issue. You can say that some are worse than others, which would be true. But rest assured, they are all guilty.
It's a simple process: pluck a statement or event out of context that fits your agenda; report secondhand accounts that have not been verified and present them as fact; and present a news story that’s actually an opinion – without telling anyone it’s an opinion.
Combine that with the social media explosion, where anyone with a computer can post something false, get it shared a thousand times, and make money off the ad revenue before anyone figures out that it's a lie, and you’ve got a society that doesn’t know who to trust. In turn, they don't trust anybody.
And this is where we are. Remember when the news networks just reported the news without the slant and the opinion and commentary, allowing you as a person with a brain to get the information and then decide how you felt about it? Those were the good old days. Gertrude may have been right all along.
But tomorrow doesn’t have to be bad. It’s just that now, we are forced to verify the validity of everything in order to obtain the truth.
I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.
Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and a writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and their daughters, Savannah and Anica.