Watching local newscasts feels like standing in line looking at tabloids. Especially when the story contains sensationalized language to lure more viewers, and readers for social media posts.
Maybe it is the current human need to add bling to the news. Think about it. Modern human beings have worn jeans for more than 140 years. Now unless they are adorned by something extra, they are bland. What then grabs attention is not the covering but the adornment on the covering. And this is news reporting today.
It Wasn’t Tuttle v. Oil
Recently a local news station covered an issue in our small town. The simple facts of the situation turned on how a small town would fund the repairs to roads damaged by heavy oil drilling related trucks and equipment. How does the small town develop a fair fee for the road use where the roads were never designed for those type of vehicles? And, how does a small town enforce any statute when the State changes the rules by legislation? Said local news station posted on social media, “Tuttle v. Oil.”
Other than a clickbait styled title, the details of the story reveal there never was a Tuttle v Oil. But, who would read a piece about paying for road repairs in a State whose economic structures and funding mechanisms disadvantage small municipalities? You would think that would make for a great piece.
The tedium required for such a story would mean more than a few minutes of soundbite clips. Wading through State statutes, running down information related to how the Fuel Tax, for instance, is apportioned to municipalities, and exactly how does drilling activity enhance the economic condition of a small municipality beyond the mineral rights holder(s). Now you see why it is easer to make the matter Tuttle v. Oil.
We need a revival of the Fourth Estate.
There Were No High Emotions
David (Tuttle) and Goliath (Oil) faced off in a Special City Council meeting. The local news station returned for a follow up. After all when you bill the issue in battle terms who would not want to see the fight?
There was no news. No, there were no high emotions, which is certainly a matter of definition. If firmly stating that the City Council members are not experts in road building is the definition of high emotions, then maybe so. But, when you pastor and work with people, you understand high emotions. If you are accustomed to an Order of Silence, then maybe the conversations at the meeting contained high emotions.
Some of what happened in the follow up meeting exposes the natural tendency to operate from a position of suspicion. Governments large and small help to create that environment. We must do better. In an attempt to demonstrate the better way is establishing a position of trust. The Council and the oil companies determined to work through what it means to be a good neighbor and how to illustrate that with reasonable decisions.
Everyone will be wondering how it works out. My guess is the local news will not find enough bling in the outcome to cover the matter.
We need a revival of the Fourth Estate.
Here Is What We Need
If there has ever been a need for the Fourth Estate, it may be today. The trouble is most journalism is funded by those with special interests. One knows the flavor of the political spectrum identifiable by the call letters for cable news channels. If you depend on Fox or CNN you should be aware you are getting it slant.
My friend Marty began The Fourth Estate podcast,
I started The Fourth Estate podcast to counter the unfortunate ease that bad information seems to be found all across the Internet and social media. The tagline “Because Facts Matter” is important to me.
One of the surprising experiences that spurred Marty stemmed from the repeating of false information by Christian folks, even pastors. He continues,
As a follower of Jesus, who I believe to be “the way, the truth and the life,” all truth is important to me. It is less important to me that a certain party holds political power than we know the truth as far as we can.
My recent experience with the local news station, which took up about 10 seconds of my 15 seconds of fame, prompted this post. Take the time to listen to, subscribe to, and share, The Fourth Estate Podcast. There is no way in a part-time capacity any one person may get to all the important news but Marty does work to address what is current from the perspective of The Fourth Estate.
You will benefit from Marty’s small spot on the interwebs and expanding podcast directories.