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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Port Huron Times Herald

It was in high school when I first heard the term "yellow journalism". We studied how and why propaganda was purposely inserted into so-called news stories. Sensational newspaper headlines would assist with any disinformation campaign. We were also taught that legitimate and unbiased newspapers present the facts, and only the facts, and save any political or social commentary for the "opinion pages". We even learned about the subtle and not so subtle slanting of the news brought to us by the, then, three major television networks broadcasting from nearby Detroit. Even the two Detroit newspapers regularly presented opposing views and commentaries about newsworthy events or political causes.

The world has moved on.

The abolishment of the fairness doctrine was a major blow to journalistic integrity. Lies and misinformation are now rampant in the so-called mainstream media and in some small town papers and other media outlets. Politicians now lie with impunity. Few, if any, newspapers, television stations, or radio stations confront the lying liars with the truth. It seems that these news organizations also have their own agendas. And, sometimes, truth and facts do get reported.

The striking part of the definition of yellow journalism is the media's penchant for presenting the news with very little legitimate research. Facts seem to get in the way of a good story. Does this indicate some degree of malice or a whole lot of sheer laziness?

The Times Herald, Port Huron's one and only daily newspaper, has a bit of a yellow tinge throughout its pages. For example, the views and alleged facts presented in "Guest Commentaries" by local leaders, politicians, and self-appointed know-all city critics are not checked for accuracy and factual content. Lies are routinely printed. These submissions have for the most part been unchallenged. It seems the editors of the newspaper have chosen to ignore the lies and publish each submission in a perfunctory manner. Why are these folks given an opportunity to espouse political or other viewpoints using lies to prop up their arguments? It is not a violation of someone's right to free speech if their submissions are rife with lies. An editor should be able to call bullshit when they read it and reject the guest opinion.

I would take my "don't publish crap view" to include the "Letters to the Editor". It does not serve the public well when lies and innuendo are printed. The editors of the Times Herald do not have to print every letter sent to the paper. The letters that are published should be factual and reasonably contribute to the day's discussion. ---- And, as far as I'm concerned, it remains unethical and unconscionable to publish a "Letter to the Editor" that bitches and lies about an organization while "outing" a gay teacher as proof of the terrible awfulness of the organization targeted. True story........

And, it seems of late, that the folks at the Times Herald have become quite committed cheerleaders for the Republican Party and Governor Snyder. They have not told the truth about the manufactured crisis in school funding. They have not told the truth about the Financial Martial Law. They have not told the truth about the shifting of money from seniors and the poor to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy in Michigan. Taxing the poor and senors to pay for tax breaks for the rich is immoral. By omitting that truth the Times Herald is failing the public.

In summary, this is what I believe:

The Times Herald is lazy.

The Times Herald has made some immoral choices evident by what they report, how they report it, and what opinions they have expressed or allowed to be expressed.

The Times Herald prints lies.

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