Saturday, August 27, 2016

My New Fling with Journalism

"If he studies the news in the papers.
     "While you are preparing the tea,
"If he talks of the damps or the vapors,
      "While moonlight lies soft o'er the sea,
"If he's sleepy while you are capricious,
       "If he hasn't a musical O,
"If he doesn't think Werther delicious,
       "My own Araminta, say no!"

                                               from A Letter of Advice, by Winthrop Mackworth Praed.

I have always despised the press. And by the press, I don't mean Benjamin Franklin or any other small owner of the press. I think what I mean is what they call the mainstream media today -- MSM -- but I was born long ago and far away, and it all started with the news on the radio in Israel.  My grandparents all listened, some of them many times a day. Or they kept the radio on all day long, and it kept repeating the same dry phrases over and over again. There was more than one channel, but the news seemed to be the same, no matter which channel you were on, and it was not just that the events described were the same. The words they used were exactly the same, It was monotonous and boring,

"Why do you keep listening to that? It's so boring."

"Because we want to know what's going on in the world."

There must be a better way to find out what is going on in the world than this! I thought. My parents watched the news on TV when I was little. I had to be very quiet. I did not like it, not because it was the news, but because it used dry language that seemed to imply it was the absolute truth they were telling us, and there was no bias. It wasn't that I suspected they were lying. It's just that I wanted there to be a bias! Without a point of view, dry facts are so boring. I needed them to tell a story. Stories always have a point of view.

An Excerpt from Ping & the Snirkelly People
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That's why when I grew up, and people knew I liked to write, I rejected out of hand the possibility of being a journalist that they suggested. I wanted to be an advocate, not a reporter. I wanted to actually say something that might make a difference. That's what I thought I was doing with my fiction, but I ran into that whole problem of genre.

Unless the reader is actually open to the possibility that a book is not going to just repeat what he already knows and expects to hear, you are never going to get through to them.  It's as if the average reader has been programmed by MSM to know what is good, what is right and what is possible, and so has a completely closed mind to any alternative possibilities. They will read fantasy or romance or adventure, but they won't reconsider anything they have already internalized about good and evil. The unbiased journalism with the unspoken, between-the-lines message about right and wrong might be exactly the thing that makes it so. And only those of us too bored by the indoctrination to actually read, listen to or watch that stuff may be immune to the propaganda.

This year, after the Libertarian National Convention, I threw myself into the Libertarian Press. I am writing for two online publications.


Do I have a  bias there? Definitely. The reason I enjoy writing for the Libertarian Press is that I am allowed to be right up front with my point of view. I don't have to be cagey and try to hide my opinions -- they are as evident as the facts that I share. What I am saying is, if you beieve X, then Y which is happening, is bad (or good), depending on what it is.

Some people have accused me of going after Gary Johnson, but nothing could be further from the truth. When Gary Johnson takes a pro-liberty stance, such as wanting to do away with Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, I am right there, reporting on this and cheering him on! When on the other hand, Gary Johnson wants to make something mandatory -- going against individual choice -- then I point out that this departs from libertarian principles.

The last time I pointed that out, Gary Johnson actually changed his position  and the Libertarian Party Chair, Nicholas Sarwark,  came out with a statement against mandating personal choice. For the first time in a long time, I feel as if my writing is having an effect.

Let's face it. We all have a bias. It's just that some people are hiding theirs and calling their opinions "facts" or "science". What I hope will happen for the future of our Republic is that more and more people will learn to read through the bias to get to the facts and decide for themselves.


  1. The news does not have to be completely unbiased, but I do not like that today we are being sold a circus where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton pretend to go at it during the election, but will most likely be friends again one day. No one wants to point out they used to be friends, and this has been swept under the carpet when someone does point it out. Also, back in 2008 a lot of Democrats really did not like the way Hillary ran her campaign, and some even said we have had enough years with Clintons and Bushes in office. Now the same commentators keep telling us Hillary is the most qualified, which is a departure from what was said back in 2008. There were also other people who wanted to run on the Democratic ticket who called out the Clintons for basically just claiming the election as their own, but they have fallen silent because I guess one day they hope if they play along they can run for president to. I do not have this loyalty to the Democratic party, and why does anyone. The news today has become to sensationalized, and feels like a reality TV show. That is why I am more selective about what I read.

    1. Hi, Julia. I am glad you can see the bias and are more selective in what you read. I am more worried about those people who are completely taken in by news outlets that share their own bias and never read or watch anything else. A nice variety of sources with a good helping of skepticism would probably take care of that. Also, we get the news off social media today and through talking to our friends. Some people think that without watching the news or reading the paper we would be completely in the dark about what goes on in the world. That simply isn't so. There are other sources of news, just as we can get our full requirement of water per day without drinking a single glass of water, we can learn all the news without reading a single newspaper or watching the news on TV.