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    Entries in Slant (2)

    Wednesday
    Oct052016

    AN UNBIASED LOOK AT SLANTS

    I originally wrote this article in college, back in the early 70s (with tweaks throughout the years to reflect contemporary thought.) It still applies today…

    With the Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton presidential election dominating the headlines every day, how could we not possibly notice that opinions run strong in both camps; those who support Trump and those who support Clinton. This is not an ordinary election any way you look at it. This one has blood boiling — with gun rights, racism, the police, climate control, and… well, I could go on and on, because we are bombarded by the media every single day. Each one leans one way or the other, and many times we don’t even know it unless we are acutely aware. Very rarely do we read, see, or hear any type of news that isn’t slanted.

    Without a doubt, each one of us has an opinion on just about everything, and sometimes we run into people who are so animated over how the news is reported, they seem to lose track of exactly what they heard, saw or read, and, by inflection, they subconsciously (on purpose) inject their own personal views that create a slant on top of the slanted news. They misconstrue what was actually said in the first place. A lot of it has to do with wishful thinking. As is the case now with the presidential election, people either support a candidate or they despise him/her with a vengeance. Consequently, out of their mouths come some pretty nasty, hateful words. And Tweets. It’s very black and white with no room for shades of grey. Or gray. You see, people even argue over spelling! 

    A lot of times, someone believes deeply in a cause. SAVE THE WHALES, for instance, can be twisted into a political agenda because contemporary conservatives interpret conservation and animal rights organizations and issues differently than liberal progressives. Neither side is ever 100% right, yet they’ll never admit it. It’s all quite convoluted since issues are usually distorted and twisted into opinion. Take Teddy Roosevelt, for example, who was a Republican president. He’s regarded as the founder of environmental conservation in America; a true protector of flora, fauna, and land. Was he a liberal Democrat in disguise despite “conservation” and “conservative” going hand-in-hand? Perhaps he was a conservative progressive, if something like this even exists. Perhaps, it’s what we all should strive for. (My own opinion, of course.)

    For some odd reason, we seem to get confused and downright mean over issues that impact us. Just yell “NO SYRIAN REFUGEES!” in a room full of Democrats. Then, scream “MORE SYRIAN REFUGEES!” in a room filled with Republicans. You’ll never hear so much passion, along with heavy doses of bias and self-serving interpretations of the U.S. Constitution. Speaking of which, in criminal court, we have an adversarial system, where, during hearings and trials, prosecutors and defense attorneys are justified in arguing their causes. Both sides think they’re right. Believe me, I saw it in action, live from the courthouse, during the Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman trials. Nearly four solid years of courtroom action. To this very day, the public still fights over them.

    Obviously, slants take on many forms, not always political. They can delve into the philosophical or religious views of the presenter. They can be based on one’s own experiences. How many movie and restaurant critics have written bad reviews? Clearly, there’s nothing political about them. Maybe you saw that movie and ate at that restaurant and enjoyed both experiences. Who is right here? You or the critic? Below are three different takes on the same fictitious event. One is a straightforward report and the other two are slants. Each slant will infer something different. Please read between the lines.

    (1) A two vehicle accident occurred on Saturday, at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Avenue, in downtown Podunk around 10 PM. One person did not survive. Dennis Walker, 15, of Ruralville was pronounced dead at the scene. His father Michael Walker, also of Ruralville, was transported to Podunk Medical Center, where he was treated and released. The driver of the other vehicle, Scott Wilson, 22, of Podunk, and his passengers, suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Police said an investigation into the cause of the accident is continuing.

     (2) A 15-year-old boy died in a two car accident on Wednesday night in Podunk. The accident occurred around 10:00 PM at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Avenue.  Dennis Walker, of Ruralville, was pronounced dead at the scene. His father, Michael Walker, also of Ruralville, was flown by helicopter to the trauma center at Podunk Medical Center. The driver of the other vehicle, Scott Wilson, 22, of Podunk, and his passengers, suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Mr. Walker had just pulled out of the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Podunk, where he had picked his son up from a Boy Scout meeting. An officer at the scene was quoted as saying, “I can’t say for sure what happened, but empty beer cans and bottles were found in the other vehicle.”

    A witness said that Wilson’s car was seen speeding out of Frank’s Tavern, less than two blocks away, and was exceeding the posted speed limit of 35MPH. Blood alcohol levels of the driver have not been released. He was taken into custody and an official report will not be disclosed until the investigation is completed.

     (3) An accident which caused the death of one person occurred at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Avenue in Podunk last night around 10:00 PM. Dennis Walker, 15, of Ruralville, died at the scene. His father, Michael Walker, also of Ruralville, was transported to Podunk Medical Center. The driver of the other vehicle, Scott Wilson, 22, of Podunk, and his passengers, were treated for minor injuries. There have been many accidents at this intersection over the past 10 years, according to state statistics. A witness at the scene said, “This is ridiculous. We’ve protested to state, county and city officials about this problem for years. We’ve signed petitions. We need a traffic light here now! No one heeds the 4 way stop signs. At least two others have died in the past three years.” An investigation is pending and weather did not seem to be a factor.

    Do you see how easy it is to write a slant? You can slant a story any way you want to suit your own opinion in order to get your somewhat subliminal message across. We see, read and hear it every day. It’s not just news outlets, either. Today, the Internet is a bastion of unlimited free speech and there are millions of bloggers and Facebook members around the world who exercise that right in stories and memes. Clearly, most of them are far from being straightforward and true. There are unlimited Web sites dying to etch their keystrokes into our brains. Even governments get into the game as they attempt to indoctrinate citizens through political correctness and other means. You, the reader, watcher and listener, must learn to distinguish between what is real and what is a twist and even if you agree, it still doesn’t make it true. Or right. Remember that.

    Of course, this is my humble and unbiased opinion.

     

    Sunday
    Dec302012

    An Unbiased Look at Media Slants

    With the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case continuing to dominate the headlines at times, I’ve noticed that opinions run strong in both camps; those who support Trayvon’s family and those who support the defendant, charged with second-degree murder. This is not an ordinary murder case, either. This one has blood boiling — with gun rights and racism front and center in media outlets around the country and on blogs worldwide.

    I originally wrote this article in college, back in the early 70s, with minor tweaking throughout the years. It still applies today…

    §

     Every day in the news media we are bombarded by reports that lean one way or another. Pro-this, anti-that, so to speak. Very rarely do we read, see or hear any type of news that isn’t slanted. Even your relatives, friends and co-workers have said the coverage of a particular news item was so biased for or against a particular issue, they felt compelled to tell you about it. You may have sat there and thought, “Hey, I saw the same thing, on the same station, and I didn’t feel it was as bad as what they just told me.” 

    Of course, each one of us has an opinion on just about everything, and sometimes we run into people who are just so animated over how the news is reported, they seem to lose track of exactly what they heard, saw or read, and, by inflection, they inject their own personal views that create a slant on top of the slanted news. Those who do the reporting tend to be pariahs in the minds of these viewers and they misconstrue what was actually said in the first place. A lot of it has to do with wishful thinking. As is the case now with the late Trayvon Martin, people either support his family’s cause for justice or they despise it with a vengeance, so out of their mouths come some pretty nasty words. Of course, kinder and gentler words come out of some of the boy’s supporters, like being racist if you disagree with them.

    A lot of times, someone believes deeply in a cause. Save the Whales! Causes can be twisted into political agendas because conservatives interpret conservation and animal rights organizations and issues as being liberal, for instance. It works both ways, meaning it can be quite convoluted. By that, I mean too many issues can be distorted and twisted into one’s own way of thinking, when, in reality, that should not be the case at all. For instance, Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican president and he is regarded as the founder of environmental conservation in America; a true protector of flora, fauna, and land. Was he a liberal tree hugger? Good question, but for some odd reason, we seem to get confused and downright mean over issues that may or may not impact us, depending on points of view. Just yell GLOBAL WARMING! in a room full of Democrats. Do the same in a room filled with Republicans. You’ll never hear so much passion, along with a heavy dose of bias and self-serving interpretations of science.

    Slants take on many forms, not always of a political nature. They can delve into the philosophical or religious views of the presenter, too. They could be based on one’s own experiences. How many movie and restaurant critics have written bad reviews? Clearly, there’s nothing political about them. Maybe you saw that movie and ate at that restaurant and you liked both. Who is right here? You or the critic? Below are three different takes on the same fictitious event. One is a straightforward report and the other two are slants. Each slant will infer something different. Please read between the lines.

    (1) A two vehicle accident occurred on Wednesday, at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Avenue, in downtown Podunk around 11 PM. One person did not survive. Dennis Walker, 15, of Ruralville was pronounced dead at the scene. His father Michael Walker, also of Ruralville, was transported to Podunk Medical Center, where he was treated and released. The driver of the other vehicle, Scott Wilson, 22, of Podunk, and his passengers, suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Police said the investigation into the cause of the accident is continuing.

    (2) A 15 year old boy died in a two car accident on Wednesday here in Podunk. The accident occurred at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Avenue. Dennis Walker, of Ruralville, was pronounced dead at the scene. His father, Michael Walker, also of Ruralville, was flown by helicopter to the trauma center at Podunk Medical Center. The driver of the other vehicle, Scott Wilson, 22, of Podunk, and his passengers, suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Mr. Walker had just pulled out of the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Podunk, where he had picked his son up from a Boy Scout meeting. An officer at the scene was quoted as saying, “I can’t say for sure what happened, but empty beer cans and bottles were found in the other vehicle.”

    A witness said that the other car had just sped out of Frank’s Tavern, less than two blocks away, and was exceeding the posted speed limit of 35MPH. Blood alcohol levels of the driver have not been released. He was taken into custody and an official report will not be disclosed until the investigation is completed.

    (3) An accident which caused the death of one person occurred at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Avenue in Podunk. Dennis Walker, 15, of Ruralville, died at the scene. His father, Michael Walker, also of Ruralville, was transported to Podunk Medical Center. The driver of the other vehicle, Scott Wilson, 22, of Podunk, and his passengers, were treated for minor injuries. There have been many accidents at this intersection over the past 10 years, according to state statistics. A witness at the scene said, “This is ridiculous. We’ve protested to state, county and city officials about this problem for years. We’ve signed petitions. We need a traffic light here now! No one heeds the 4 way stop signs. At least two others have died in the past three years.” An investigation is pending and weather did not seem to be a factor.

    Do you see how easy it is to write a slant? You can slant a story any way you want to suit your own opinion and to get your message across. We see, read and hear it every day on the news. It’s not just news outlets, either. Today, the Internet is a bastion of unlimited free speech and there are millions of bloggers around the world who exercise that right — except for China, of course — but it certainly doesn’t mean it’s all straightforward and true. It’s not just bloggers. There are unlimited Web sites dying to sink their fangs into our brains. It’s not just Web sites, either. Governments love to indoctrinate their citizenry. Of course, I could go on and on and on, but I won’t.

    You, the reader, watcher and listener, have to distinguish between what is real and what is a twist and even if you agree, it still doesn’t make it true. Or right. Remember that.

    Of course, that’s my unbiased opinion.