I was going to start this note by saying "Is it just me..." but I've decided that it isn't just me. Shoddy reporting abounds, both locally and nationally. Reporters are not doing the basic work of reporting. Journalists have become nothing more than quote regurgitators. “Jones said...In response, Smith said…” Few journalists are digging into the guts of a story.
I am not a news junkie--I don’t read everything in the paper, and I don’t watch much more than the local and national news just before supper. I do consider myself relatively well-informed. I try to find out the essential details of issues that directly affect me, or that I find interesting. And that’s where my frustration arises: those details aren’t available in the “mainstream” media.
Example #1: Prescription drug price differential. Democratic senators from North Dakota and Minnesota periodically make a big deal of the fact that some people have been crossing the border into Canada to purchase prescription drugs because they’re cheaper there. From there, they go directly to advocating universal prescription drug coverage. Meanwhile, I’m asking “So, why are drugs cheaper in Canada?” I have yet to see that question asked by the politicos, or by the journalists who are supposedly “on the story.” I can hazard a couple of guesses, but why isn’t this a major part of any story on this?
Example #2: What is a family? The local YMCA is coming under fire by the local Unitarian church because they refused to allow a lesbian couple and their kids to join at the family membership rate. (Read about it here - and here.) So, did the reporter ask the officials at the Y how their policies define a family? Did the reporter ask the couple or the representative of their church if they had a proposed definition of a family? Is there a legal definition of a family?
Example #3: Size matters. Another local issue here. The city commission proposed a limit on the height and number of radio towers a ham operator can have on a residential lot. (Read about it here.) The ham operators are protesting. I’d like to know how the commission came up with the numbers they did, and why the ham operators don’t like them. How high do you need a tower to be?
These are the kind of questions that pop to the front of my mind as I read or watch the news. They don’t seem like oddball questions to me. But why don’t reporters ask them?