Young Voices

Monday, October 18, 2004

Don't believe everything you hear

If it's on television it's got to be true, right? Maybe not. But, if it's on the news on television, it's got to be true, right? Well, as we are quickly finding out, this is not guaranteed. Everyone has an agenda, whether realized it or not - including the trusted news programs and stations.

We quickly learned this after Dan Rather chose to broadcast information from an unreliable source to take an "attack" at George W. Bush and his National Guard duties. Since this story, Rather has been attacked and questioned on television by politicians and also in the newspapers.

Did he do this report knowing that he was possibly using false information? Did he do it in hopes of Bush being voted out of the White House? Rather took a risk making a report which would harm Bush's chance at re-election, a common thought with which I completely agree. But it's not like Rather is the only one out there who uses news desk power for political sway.

CNN is frequently referred to as the liberal news. While its agenda may not appear as evident as Rather's, look at the network's content. It frequently has negative reports on the war in Iraq, the economy and other possible flaws in Bush's campaign. Do we hear from CNN about Kerry's instability or his flaws? Nope. Leave that to Fox News.

If CNN is liberal, Fox News appears to be the complete opposite. Fox News has been accused of having a far more obvious political agenda than any other news organization. Fox News tends to show Bush's achievements and Kerry's flaws. When the governor of New Jersey resigned, CNN barely reported on it, while Fox News focused on it. Odd it seems that these two news stations have such different news.

In outcry, MoveOn.org is petitioning to have Fox News's slogan "Fair and Balanced" removed because of the station's conservative slant. Then again, MoveOn.org has (liberal) bias, too.

There are some things both sides will use to their advantage. A good example of this is Sept. 11. We hear all the time that since then our world has changed. Our world hasn't necessarily changed - just the news of terrorist attacks has been pushed to the front page on a regular basis to draw our attention to it.

So where do we go to get the actual story instead of the slanted story? There may not be a definitive answer to this question. There may no longer be a total truth in the news, just versions of the "truth."

There's no way around the political and personal agendas of the people in control of your information. So you have to decide for yourself what to believe. Don't believe everything you hear in the media. It might only be one person's truth.

* John Roberts writes for the Buena Vista University student newspaper, "The Tack."