Where are the lines?

Benjamin Chase of the Plainsman
Posted 9/25/21

In this edition of From the Mound, the writer examines the accuracy of news and the community aspect of the local news

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Where are the lines?


Take me back to yesterday
Where the line between right and wrong
Didn’t seem so hazy.”
The Judds - “Grandpa”

It’s become so common today that it’s almost exhaustive, but it’s interesting to have a song released in 1985, just after Ronald Reagan won a second term in office, that longed for happier days, for days when the world was better, for days that were so obviously more “moral and good” than the current days.

Thirty years later, that same longing was pushed to drive a presidential campaign!

Another thing that doesn’t change is the longing for true, accurate media sources.

Those in the media hear constantly from those who debate the words we put to print or speak on the air, though it has become significantly more concerning to see the aggressiveness that people assert their viewpoint. Mailed and emailed threats have turned into on-air attacks and even shootings in newsrooms, sadly.

One of my favorite “media check” moments of the year recently came out as Ad Fontes Media released its annual media bias chart using composite judgment of a more than 20,000 article and episode sample basis of print, television, and audio sources.

Ad Fontes measures more than 1,000 sources on whether the source is pure fact reporting all the way down to containing inaccurate and/or intentionally fabricated information on one axis of their chart.

The other axis of the chart is centered in the “middle” with the section just to the left labeled as “skews left” then “hyper-partisan left” and finally “most extreme” with the same labels to the right.

The link for the interactive chart is adfontesmedia.com/interactive-media-bias-chart.

Atop that chart, closest to the middle, with the highest reliability of fact reporting are NPR News, the Associated Press, and Reuters News.

News sources tend to arch down from that peak to things like the Jimmy Dore Show and Infowars, which are considered to contain misleading and/or fabricated information at their opposite end of the political spectrum.

A Community Partnership

Certainly all of us at here at The Plainsman would love to report on every club, sports team, and community event of the seven-county coverage area of the paper. The simple truth is that there aren’t enough hours in the day nor enough of us here at the paper to do that.

Heck, the land area of our coverage area is larger than multiple New England states. They just cram a lot more people into that small area!

That’s why we rely on accurate and timely releases from community partners. Upset that the paper hasn’t reported about something people are posting about on social media about a local crime spree?

It’s quite likely that the question has been asked, but the local police/sheriff has asked not to publicize the crimes and/or has not provided a media release appropriate for print.

Wondering why your favorite local high school team’s Friday game wasn’t in the Saturday paper? Most likely information was not received to the paper from the school in time to publish.

All of us are part of our community and want to put out a paper that promotes the community, but it’s truly a partnership as none of us is living high off the hog due to our work here at the paper!

While many long for yesterday, the changing world of news has meant significantly smaller staffs attempting to bring the same quantity and quality of news coverage.

That’s why we rely on our community, and together, we can build a very good tomorrow for receiving the most accurate, community-focused news available for Huron, Beadle County, and the entire Heartland Region.