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Journalism Debate Misses the Mark

The Riddle Report 05 04 2021

In today’s newspaper, I came across two articles focusing on trust in the media. Both were through and both tackled the sad state of trust in the media.

The first article was by Carrie Sheffield and it was a good, well-researched discussion on the lack of “trust” that exists of media. She identified several points of concern and closed by saying, “Progressives in the media these days speak of “equity” and “inclusion,” but the question is whether they’ll include better ideological diversity in their work moving forward.”

In the second article written by Yosef Getachew and Jonathan Walter, the argument centered around the absence of women and people of color in the newsroom. They ended the article by saying, “The challenges to our current media landscape are multilayered that require bold solutions. In order to revive journalism as a pillar of our democracy, we need a vibrant ecosystem with diverse and independent voices, investigative reporting that holds power accountable, and robust reporting that can meet the information needs of our communities today.” (This article sounds more like an ad or perhaps a politician.)

Both of these articles were interesting and both brought up important points. But, in my opinion, the piece by Sheffield came closest to the answer. Just the same, I believe they both missed the mark.

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Now back to the article.

The solution to the problem with today’s journalism won’t be found in looking at charts and dissecting data. The answer is both simple and complex. Let’s take a closer look.

Yes, the trust in the media is broken! That is a fact. But I believe there is a very simple solution to that problem. Before I tell you what it is, let me be transparent. I hold no degrees in journalism, have never taken a class in journalism, and the only reporting that I have done is in my blog.

I am almost 78 and I have lived long enough to have observed both good and bad journalism. So, what do I think is good journalism?

The best way I can answer that question is to relate how I read the news when I was much younger.

When I was a kid, the local newspaper published news on local news and national news. And just like now they used the AP to publish stories that were primarily national. These stories were not only well-written and researched, but they were also written in a way that left the writer’s personal opinion out of it. That is, they reported just the facts; if they wanted to express their views, they were published elsewhere in the paper.

For all I knew, the writer could have been liberal or conservative. If I wanted their opinion, I could turn to the back pages where there was the Editorial page for the Editor and the Letters to the Editor where the letter writer could express his or her opinion. There were also guest opinion articles. (All of which we still have.) The bias was separated from the article and often was found elsewhere.

In short, the facts were reported without bias. And the bias was easily identifiable in another section of the paper where the reader knew it was an opinion based on their understanding of the facts.

Today that is not so.

In the modern newspaper we find the bias mixed right in alongside the facts. It is not rare to find article after article where this is the case. It is disheartening. But worse still, it is dishonest.

Reporters are supposed to report the facts and leave the opinion making up to the readers. But I am afraid the colleges and universities no longer teach journalism that way. Nowadays, it appears to me that reporters write with an angle or agenda. They insert words, sometimes only one or sometimes several, that are meant to convey certain ideas that the writer wants conveyed.

If you only want the facts, you have to try to filter out all the bias. It takes longer, is not always possible, and it provides a false narrative. I am an author of fiction and it is expected that I will write in a way to create a scene or show a person a certain way. But that is unacceptable for a reporter!

In response to the two articles, it is not what the color of skin the reporter has nor the sex of the reporter. Nor is it whether the reporter is liberal or conservative. It is telling us the facts and letting us form our own opinions. Let’s get back to what we knew when we were youngsters; report the facts on one page and state your opinion on another page!

Unless you bring honesty back to reporting and report the facts without the bias you will discover that increasing diversity and creating a vibrant ecosystem with diverse and independent voices won’t change our mistrust. It will just continue to grow and fester. Then we will get our news from blogs like this.

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Liar, Liar

The Riddle Report 03 12 2021

Yesterday, 03 11 2021, President Joe Biden took to the airwaves for his first speech since taking office on January 20th. In his speech, he took full credit for the ongoing manufacturing and distribution of the vaccines. This is a lie.

But the speech was sort of a 50-day celebration I suppose. Prior to the speech he signed the latest Stimulus Package, which means money should be going out to deserving people this weekend. Although the package was passed without Republican support, the stimulus checks were supported by both parties.

So, he was celebrating the passage of a 1.9 Billion package that was loaded with pork.

News Item #1 “The Big Lie”

“A year ago, we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked.

“Denials for days, weeks, then months that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, and more loneliness.”

That was his opening line and it was the big lie.

Instead of silence look at the following timeline:

  • January 3, 2020 – the United States offered to help China investigate the virus. Although later repeated, the offer was never really accepted.
  • January 6, 2020 – the CDC issued a Level I travel notice for Wuhan, China.
  • January 17, 2020 – CDC began screening 3 international airports.
  • January 20, 2020 – Dr. Fauci announced the NIH was already working on developing a vaccine.
  • January 31, 2020 – by the end of the month the administration had:
    • Issued a Level III travel ban (widely criticized by Biden and other liberals as being paranoia)
    • Organized White House Coronavirus Task Force
    • Declared a public health emergency
    • Announced Chinese travel restrictions
    • Suspended entry into the U.S. by foreign nationals at risk of transmitting the virus.

Does that sound like silence to you? Denials? The only denials came from Biden and company. Trump did deny statements and accusations by liberals, but he and his administration were already engaged.

News Item #2 “The Implied Lie”

“You lost your job. You closed your business. Facing eviction, homelessness, hunger, a loss of control, and maybe worst of all, a loss of hope.

“Watching a generation of children who may be set back up to a year or more – because they’ve not been in school – because of their loss of learning.”

Was any of that untrue? No!

But the implied lie that it was Trump’s fault is demonstrably false.

Most of the above statements happened in states that were near or were in total lockdown. Most of those states were run by Democrats who ordered the shutdowns. But most Republican run states did only partial shutdowns and began reopening as soon as possible.

A case in point is Florida where the Governor began reopening the state despite liberal protests and media condemnation. New York, which totally shutdown, led the nation in deaths, and just about every other category.

As for the schools, this happened in virtually all states, but again the Republican led states began working to reopen the schools as quickly as possible. It hasn’t always been pretty, but it has been largely successful except for one problem.

The Teachers union.

Despite assurances from CDC and the Dr. Fauci, teachers have been opposed to reopening the schools. The result has been a shortage of teachers and children being robbed of their education. And now, parents are actively pushing for the reopening.

News Item #3 “The Vaccine”

“When I took office 50 days ago, only 8 percent of Americans after months…”

Another implied lie: that nothing had been done toward vaccinating people by the Trump Administration. Let’s look at some more facts:

  • December 11, 2020 – Johnson and Johnson vaccine approved for use
  • December 18, 2020 – Moderna’s vaccine approved
  • January 20, 2021 – Trump’s last day in office; 1.5 million vaccinated
  • March 11, 2021 – 1st 50 days of Biden Administration; 1.4 million vaccinated.

Do the math: Trump administration vaccinated 1.5 million people between 12/11/2020 and 01/20/2021 for approximately 27 days; Biden administration vaccinated 1.4 million people between 01/20/2021 and 03/11/2021. Or put another way, the Trump administration vaccinated 100,000 more people in 23 less days.

Lest I forget, the Trump administration partnered with Johnson and Johnson to increase capacity to manufacture more vaccine and in record time. Translate the word ‘capacity’ to build a factory and you get the kind of commitment made.

News Item #4 “What it Could Have Been”

It would have been a great time for President Biden to show his commitment to unity. All he had to do was acknowledge what the Trump administration had done and congratulate or thank them. Then he could have bragged about how he was continuing the work. Instead, he tried to take all the credit.

News Item #5 “the 25th “Getting the Truth”

If you want the truth, you have to get out there and find it. It isn’t really hard, but your local paper isn’t going to tell you, nor is your television. And you can’t trust the social media. Facebook, YouTube, and others only want you to talk about their agenda. Your traditional sources of information are no longer reliable.

But the good news is that there are newer resources such as Rumble, MeWe, DuckDuck, and others. Find out what works for you. But in the end, it is your responsibility to find the truth.

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R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld and his Parler page is authorriddle.

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Demise of the Press

The Riddle Report 12 16 2020

You may think me hard on our press, particularly the national news media. But I’m what’s called a dinosaur. I date back to the time when reporters actually reported facts and kept their opinions out of their articles.

This past Sunday I read an article about the loss of local news. It was very sad to read how the local news media has faded. But what the author didn’t mention was that the national media is also slipping. The article identified what the author thought was the real problem and went on to suggest a solution. But, I believe that he missed the mark. Let’s take a look.

According to the article more than a quarter of the country’s newspapers have closed and over 1,800 communities have lost their news outlets since 2004. That is truly sad, but what is sadder is the lack of understanding why.

The article blames the rise of websites (blogs?) that are ‘ordered up by political operatives…’ Instead, they should be looking in the mirror.

Here’s why.

Associated Press

Have you noticed how far left the AP has gone?

The next time you read an article from the Associated Press watch for words or phrases like no evidence, false charges, ranting, or the like. These are not words that you would expect to read in a fact-based news article; instead, they are opinion words. And they clutter the average article, specially those coming from the Associated Press.

Such words are a dead giveaway. You instantly know the authors are inserting their biases. A true report tells us the facts and doesn’t tell us how to read it or understand it. A true reporter digs up the facts, tells it like it is, and lets us decide!

The AP is no longer the reliable news source it once was. Back when ZI was a young man, reporters did what I described above. They dug up and put the facts out there for us to read and decide. But now they think it is their job to teach us how to interpret the truth. So, they place their highly valued opinions right in the article they are writing. Don’t believe me, pick up a paper and read an article written by the Associated Press. Just in case you accidentally find an honest to goodness report without bias, you should probably read two or three articles.

Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor used to be informative. In reading them you often learned things and there was always the possibility to change your mind. With all the controversy surrounding the election I decided to add my two cents worth shortly after reading one man’s letter that was fraught with innuendo and falsehood. So, I sat down and wrote a letter. In the process I read the rules and tried my best to meet them. I mailed it and waited for it to be published; I waited some more, and finally realized it wasn’t going to be published.

Later this year I wrote another fact filled letter. It got the same results. I don’t know what it’s like in your community, but here in a Conservative area the liberal letters outnumber the conservative letters by a large margin. So, it makes no sense why my letter was not published.

It is hard to prove they were biased against me, but the perception of bias is clear. A Conservative letter is not desired.


That is an odd title. But consider this: in the ongoing battle over legal and illegal ballots the news media has not been reporting the whole story. If you want to know all sides of a story you often have to go to other sources.

The reason the news media has protection in our Bill of Rights is because our founding fathers expected’ the press to keep the public informed on the issues. They say they are informing the people. But today’s media has failed in that endeavor. Instead of facts we get opinion. And when facts are given, they are preceded and followed by opinion. (Check out my comments about the Associated Press.)


The article identified what the author considered the problem and then gave us a solution: money. That’s right. The solution was money, which would provide better equipment, etc. But throwing money at a problem rarely works. Besides, money isn’t the problem.

The problem is the way reporters are being trained. One reporter unwittingly provided the real problem. She was caught on air stating that it was her job (as a reporter) to tell people what to think.

No, it isn’t.

It is her job and the job of all reporters to tell us the facts and let us decide the right course of action! That is old fashioned reporting. When I was a young man, opinions were found in the Editorial Pages not in the articles. Today, opinion is mixed with facts and the reader, if not careful, assumes that all is fact.

The only true solution is to return to the ideal of reporting facts and letting the readers, that’s us, decide. Give us truth and transparency.

Will it happen?



R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.