Monday, July 11, 2011

Is The News Media A Good Source Of Factual Information?

Like most people of my generation I grew up believing the myth journalists perpetrated and often believed about themselves and their profession, the American “news” media. You know the one. We have a free press that keeps us free with journalists and editors constantly and consistently working their butts off at great personal cost and sometimes risk to get us the news that matters, the facts, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And when they dig up those facts, they report them in a balanced, unbiased way. If the subject is controversial or there are reputable people making opposing claims, they report both sides of the issue so that the public can draw its own conclusion. And of course, they always correct factual errors. Journalism at its purist, the complete opposite of the promotional press which uses every tool available to convince potential customers that the goods and services it writes about are worth buying, hopefully from them or someone who pays them for their promotional activities.

When I learned back in 1995 that silver was being sold as a “dietary” supplement, I intensely investigated the salesmen’s claims about their products and also about supplements in general. I began following the topics in the “mainstream news media”, the promotional press and eventually the Internet. I quickly concluded that the mainstream media has to be one of the worst places of all to find the facts essential to make informed decisions on vital issues, especially health issues, and that the promotional press often dresses itself up to look objective. Obviously the same is true for the Internet. Yet I can’t tell you how many times people have written to me about silver supplements opening with, “I’ve been researching colloidal silver, CS, and yours is the only negative site I’ve found.” I know immediately that they haven’t been researching at all. They’ve been googling, clicking on promotional sites and believing that the people who posted them were offering unbiased information, a very dangerous assumption indeed.

For that reason I plan on posting a short series of blogs sharing some of the experiences that woke me up, experiences that led me to distrust the media and stop distinguishing between journalism and promotionalism, aka, marketing, whether or not the outlet is print, broadcast or electronic.

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