Over at Creation-Evolution Headlines, we hear complaints of Associated Press bias in reporting on a Texas textbook controversy:
AP reporter Will Weissert spared no stereotypes in his effort to create fear-mongering about one of his favorite bogeymen, the creationists.
He referred to “long-simmering ideological objections” to evolution, not matters of fact and evidence.
The critics of a textbook cited “alleged factual errors,” not real factual errors.
“Creationists” are described as “those who see God’s hand in the creation of the universe.” Nothing is said of Darwin skeptics or intelligent design advocates.
Those are set in opposition to “academics who worry about religious and political ideology trumping scientific fact.”
Said it before, say it again: AP will go under before it seriously offers a fresh look at the issues.
Its reporters are the leftover hacks of dying media whose careers are invested in watching the sun set on their way of life. Emblematic is a 2012 HuffPo hedder, “AP Revenue Declines Again, But More Slowly.” Where those guys live, that is progress.
Their way of life very much includes seeing the world in the precise terms marketed in the article CEH complains about. Marketed to a shrinking group who have access to no other point of view.
Barking on command is the only trick known or taught at such media. It’s been worse. If anything, the foreign desk is worse than the science desk. You may not know that the New York Times covered up a major famine in the 1930s, and the journalist responsible got a Pulitzer, never since rescinded.
Two differences: There was no other obvious source of news back then. Second, Texans who doubt Darwin today are not in immediate danger of starving.
The only solution is, stop getting our news from such sources on any issue we care remotely about. If we don’t care enough about an issue to care what the distortion is or how it matters, fine, let’s listen to them. We just better not act on what they say.
For whatever matters to us, we should take the opportunity the Internet offers to develop sources we trust, correct for distortion, and change them if we develop cause for doubt. It’s not difficult. We do the very same thing when we shop at the supermarket. Perhaps we are just not used to applying it to news. But if we don’t want to be brainwashed, we must.
One additional benefit is that we can then ignore what we know is distortion. It’s shameful and harmful, of course, but it doesn’t stop us from finding out what is going on. It’s no different than following a healthy diet while our neighbour lives on Butter Toffee.
In many times and places, governments have attempted to deal with these situations by controlling news. With the Internet, that may be more difficult. In any event, we aren’t there, or at least not yet. – O’Leary for News