In a letter to the editor "News can't be filtered through imposed standard" December 31, 2012, Mr. Phelps’ criticism of my views on some segments of the media, in general, and my comments of Mr. Koopmans’s thoughts on how to explain "Life Death and Risks" to his 13-year old daughter, in particular, are not surprising. Our newspapers are filled with half-truths, hearsay, and omission of facts that manipulate children and adults alike.
Children internalize attitudes, feelings, and biases about society, therefore, the dialogue with them should build trust, but it needs to be honest, age-appropriate, which is probably the single most important protection we can offer them. It is from the revelation of the truth that all else follows including their critical thinking and development.
Mr. Phelps has been a member of the journalistic industry in the past, and I think those involved in the mainstream business of reporting tend to believe in the value, ethics, and responsibilities of their work. They fall short, however, when they do not question and report how tragic events, like Newtown, are associated with the social-political-economic forces that created them.
Seeing value in one's life work is a very reasonable attitude to possess. It’s a common human trait--across all industries--for people to feel positive about their role and production in work and its effect on society. Possibly, however, I can respond and expand on some of my expected outcomes for media and my concerns about their value.
Mr. Phelps asked, "What is Mr. Trkla talking about and, more telling, what is he advocating?" I am not advocating censorship, but I am certainly promoting accountability. To write about Newtown serves no important purpose unless it arouses indignation, anger, and action against all atrocities, anywhere in the world.
Another feature of concern to me regarding Mainstream Media is ethical reporting. It’s a belief that the process of picking and choosing what to include in a story should, in the end, produce the truth, the whole truth…and nothing else. When relevant bits and pieces are ignored, minimized, or alluded to as insignificant, the public loses.
I don’t believe that there should be a fear of making a stand against power or authority or an inability to challenge the considerable number of untruths that occur, or a willingness to only do the “politically correct” version. When media, corporate, and political interests are one and the same, and when material is unreported, minimized, manipulated, or sensationalized, the public losses an opportunity to learn and act.
That style of reporting will only serve to enlarge the realm of injustice within our world. Thoughtful critical comment and reporting should engage a reader so that their knowledge and potential to think, speak, and engage is increased. I thought the ranking of the Newton tragedy in relationship to past atrocities had no such validity.
Much of the “news” of the day is presented to the public by a very small number of corporations. Formally, or informally, that affects the nature and perspective of the message presented to the public, and as a result, their intake and reaction is compromised.
Journalism represents, protects, and promotes our culture, health, morality, and social contract with each other. But, if "truth and acceptability” collide; I fear that too often the corporate, non-challenging version is presented to the public. I tend to agree with Dr. Michael Parenti who stated that journalism "moves in more or less consistent directions…” away from objective reporting.
However, I do agree with Mr. Phelps’ conclusion that "an informed society is the best defense of democracy.” I find, however, that too frequently, our main media misses opportunities, or selects potential information and comment so predictably that, in the final analysis, the prominent issues presented lack any import, whatsoever.