news facts in newspapers

News can be very wrong. That’s because news facts aren’t always about informing the public. It’s about selling product to advertisers.

On slow news days, small stories that should stay small become promoted. On busy days, stories that would’ve made the news are demoted or omitted. Our moral barometer shifts according to what’s reported, what we’re shown, how it’s presented and ‘news facts’ become merely a loose guide to build any story upon – and it’s all for the selling of airtime and print space.

Think about this: Everyday a shocking event leads our news. If there’s nothing ‘shocking’ found locally, it’s drawn from abroad. We’ve never had a nice news day! There’s no ‘shock’ in ‘nice news’ stories.

News is derived from fact. That’s how it’s supposed to work but there’s nothing to stop an omission of facts occurring to alter a story. Omissions are powerful engines when it comes to changing one’s direction and injecting some shock value into it. Like the photo above, what you don’t see matters just as much because it will put everything into context, proper context.

But context is boring.

News facts and context.

Context requires research to be done by using all the facts at hand, even those that may have appeared, at first, mundane or irrelevant. Context takes more time for a writer to compile properly. It takes a while for their readers, viewers and listeners to digest holistically. This is time few readers have and the writers who compile news know that.

Industrial-sized rants will crash onto social media outlets when there’s an obvious bias in reporting. Posts which favour a particular political ethos will agitate and, although this is as abhorrent too, it’s the everyday news broadcasts that concern this writer most. They make up the majority of the news and count for more when it comes to individuals. Politicians and corporations are easy targets, neighbours are almost family.

News facts gone wrong.

Here’s a fantastic news event I followed with intrigue. In happened in the eighties and it’s about guy, a nice fellow, who became caught in the middle of a news frenzy and then went to jail for murder. It has stuck with me ever since: A friend’s friend was guilty of bludgeoning his ex-wife to death with a baseball bat, in Logan City.

He lied to the police. That’s what’s set it all in motion.

He had a good reason to lie. He didn’t want his partner knowing he’d visited his ex-wife’s home. Before you shout: ‘That lousy two-timing dog! He deserves to go to jail and rot in hell!’, there’s an enormous difference between murder and sleeping around. One doesn’t equal the other… and we’re looking to put away a killer, not a philanderer in place of one.

Let’s find some context with the next part of my story.

What did the news facts report?

The news facts provided at the time failed to report the demands the young lady had made on ‘the guy’ about seeing his bitchy ex-wife. The two females hated each other and the current girl wanted the previous one out his life. The reports also mentioned nothing of the child in the middle of it all, a boy who sometimes had to be collected from and dropped-off at the ex-wife’s home. She had an unreliable car and couldn’t always get the kid to the designated meet-point, so he’d go there to keep the appointment.

Then there was the fingerprint found inside her home, on a light switch in the living room. It was his. This print and his statement were in direct conflict. Forty eight hours after the murder, he was reported in the news as a suspect and, after a week, he was named, charged and taken into custody. That was the last the public saw of him. For all everyone knew, a killer had been caught.

Unfortunately the reporters and the police during that first week had bumbled out their news duties. They were like two horny teenagers tugging at each other’s clothes, they couldn’t see beyond their awkward passion to get into each other’s pants and get down to business – to satisfy the community’s insatiable need to know.

Passion to report news facts fast!

When their lust was over, a caller with brand new information phoned the police. A bloody shirt was discovered in a trash can at a nearby caravan park. A bat was mentioned too but the police didn’t want to know anything of either. They had their guy and the community was sleeping peacefully. Why wake a sleeping giant?

The trial found him not guilty. He was released from police custody eighteen months later to no a world that had no job, no home and no girlfriend for him. He wasn’t guilty of murder but that’s the badge he wore anyway.

And the real killer?

Who cares?

In SEETHINGS you’ll find mention of how the news media manipulates its stories to meet its own end, affecting crime along the way. It leads us all the way to Kurdaitcha, the silent assassin taking lives in a storm ravaged city. The media plays a crucial part in helping our killer commit murder.

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News Facts: Fact Based or Entertainment Dressing? was originally published on MICHAEL FORMAN AUTHOR

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