Sunday, April 3, 2011

Open Letter to All Sensationalist Reporters and Bloggers

I get so much paranoid tabloid-level sensationalist nonsense coming across my desk these days that I have decided to give up replying to each one and have decided to write this open letter to bloggers and "real" reporters on both the Internet and MSM.

Dear Friends,

This is an attempt to ask you all to do a little soul-searching and be a little bit more responsible in your writing and what you publish. I am not directing this to anyone in particular as these are unique times in our lives and I can see how I might even be guilty of what I am complaining about. So, please bear with me and take my words to heart and understand that, not just for you, these are words that I want to reflect upon myself too...
In these days of poor reporting and just plain bad information it is not useful for us to be adding to people's worries and fears. When we don't know the story all we can do is to stick with the facts. 

Let me repeat that: Just stick with facts. These are thing we know to be true: Fear mongering, innuendo, and sensationalism are doing no one any good.

Write to your hearts content, but if you are going to write "End of the World" type of content (like on Journalist Wall of Shame) then it might be best to state that it is so. Even Orson Wells' masterpiece, "War of the World'swas an episode of the American radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938 and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. It was billed as drama!
Please be more responsible with your writing. I am trying my best to do so also. I think it is my duty (as a former newsman and host of CNN "Newswave" on JCTV until 1990). As a former B-grade news caster, I have seen a lot of crap reported as truth from "reputable" news sources. I have myself been guilty of doing that sort of reporting too! It is a shame that Internet news sources - the supposed alternative - would be found completely guilt - in many cases - of the same crime as the old school mass media.
Before you write about how this nuclear accident has ruined Japan or life in this country, consider facts:
At the end of WWII, Japan had over 2 million dead military and nearly 1 million dead civilians. Her cities had been carpet bombed into ruin. The economy and people were in shambles. Yet she recovered. 
Today? Not to downplay the suffering of those affected, but the disaster in Miyagi and surrounding areas is bad, but, in the long term view of things, merely a blip on the screen of Japan. Had this accident happened in Tokyo where 65 million people live (as opposed to the 750,000 in Miyagi), near the Tokai or Hamaoka reactor – that might result in a real catastrophe.
So far the numbers of dead from the nuclear reactor are: zero. One crane operator died at Fukushima when his crane collapsed during the earthquake. The numbers of dead, injured or missing from the earthquake and tsunami are at over 27,480. That is the real crisis.

Japan will soon recover from this mess. What she probably won't recover from - and what few write about - even those who claim some sort of economic expertise - is Japan's debt problem and her aged population. Now those things Japan may not recover from for a long time and those things are going to kill a lot of people.
If news reporters or bloggers want to report on the true crisis then write about those poor old folks, men, women and small children.
At the least, Mr. & Mrs. sensationalist reporter and blogger do something positive by doing the minimum and placing information on how to donate and help relieve the suffering of those people somewhere on your blog or in your article.
This continuation of the sensationalism, scare mongering and fear - along with an attitude of sorrow is doing no one any good. We need to get our lives back together. We need to be positive and grow.
Making excuses for why you ran away, scaring people, living in fear and anxiety are not the symptoms of a healthy mind. For the good of those who have suffered and lost loved ones and for our own good and the good of our families, we must return to our daily lives - and not feel guilty about it. We must laugh again and go out and have fun. We must get back to normal. We must be positive. We've got to get the economy rolling again.
Fear, anxiety and worry are not signs of mental health. Laughing, going out, being happy, enjoying life? These are signs of a healthy mind.
I am not advocating that everyone write "Happy Happy Joy Joy" all the time. But I am advocating responsible reporting and blogging and I am advocating that you stick to a subject that you are expert at... and, at least, post on your blog or article information as to how people can get off their asses and help those suffering up north as opposed to paranoid nail biting and worrying about the end of the world.
If you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem. 
You can find information on how you can help with the relief efforts at the very top of this page. Thanks.

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