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Clayton Hill

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

The News Tribune lists goals: honest, fair and objective, but what isn’t stated sometimes tells a different story. Tom Ault hit the “nail-on-the head” last week — “half-truths tend to sway actual news not inferred,” and “stop using propaganda style reporting.” To drive the nail flush, newspapers have always had difficulty separating news from opinion — some don’t even try – hence the label “fake news.” Most AP news articles are opinionated as is most broadcast news and their associated cable networks. What they don’t cover is itself a story counter to reporting objectively. I’ll say all three local TV networks appear to deliver area-wide news with much bias.

A local example of this “leading readers to an inferred intent” concerned a comparative regarding our public high school. The article compared JCHS with Joplin, Hazelwood and Blue Springs – having most equally unfavorable statistics regarding graduation rates, attendance, students going on to college or military. Missing were data of area high schools – in particular, the three Columbia high schools. Jefferson City tries to emulate Columbia when it is citing their desired “progressive” agenda that generally matches the liberal-leaning academia, but to steer clear when agenda doesn’t. Also, misleading headlines sometime echo AP bias. At times the header tells a total story and is completely different from the details written.

This reporting style is not new. I am reading a “A Patriot’s History of the United States” by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. The book discusses how politicians and editors made no attempt at objectivity – their objectives were specifically to lead readers and voters in political persuasion. Historically, the “press” was the only means of getting news widespread — papers, pamphlets and flyers printed for quick distribution. Most history books list Andrew Jackson as the first “true” Democrat, but this book lists Martin Van Buren in the early 1820s as the undoubtable founder of party and system based on patronage or the spoils system; accordingly, this patronage was fueled by federal job appointments and mass buying of votes accelerated by the partisan press.

Finally, a pet peeve: reporters and commentators are credentialed from the finest journalism schools, but they seldom demonstrate correct English. And, to decipher with all the “you knows, right, uhs, etc.” is unbearable. Similarly, there is an unwillingness to use the respectful titles such as “President Trump,” Drs. Rice or Conway or Madam Secretary. News can do better.

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