What is News? How Do We Decide What News to Accept and What to Reject? Should News Be “Created?”  Why are George Orwell and Hannah Arndt Required Reading.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Thomas Jefferson

A calamitous hurricane has inundated Houston, Paul Klugman writes “Fascism, American Style,” Nick Kristoff pens, “There Once Was a Nation With an Unstable Leader,” comparing Trump to the Roman Emperor Caligula, who was killed by the Praetorian guard. North Korea flirts with nuclear annihilation, the Supreme Court has veered to the right and we fear years of court decisions turning back the clock; and, principals reported to work in New York City today.

A week ago, in spite of  swirling eddies of impending doom the New York City Chancellor (what the leader of the school system in New York City is called – formerly the Superintendent of Schools) made her annual state of the schools speech, a speech laying out initiatives for the upcoming year. The head of the City University of New York (CUNY)  also laid out his plans for the college year. The sponsor, the online, City and State news daily news accumulator also moderated a number of panels.

Farina, explained four new initiatives, the CUNY chancellor a striking change that could dramatically increase community college completion rates, all unreported by the attending media.

During the panels the moderator asked Betty Rosa, the leader of the Board of Regents, her views of Daniel Loeb, the billionaire hedge funder and Chair of the Eva Moskowitz Success Academy board: Loeb compared the leader of the Democrats in the State Senate, an Afro-American woman to the Klu Klux Klan: Rosa sharply criticized the Loeb comment and called upon Eva to remove him from the Success Board. When the moderator asked about the SUNY proposal for “instant” certification of prospective teachers Rosa and Elia sharply criticized the plan.

City and State released a summary of the event: “ELIA, FARIÑA AND MILLIKEN ADDRESS EQUITY AND ESSA AT ON EDUCATION,” here

Watch a U-Tube of the Farina and Milliken presentations here

Listen to a podcast of the Rosa/Elia fireside chat here

In spite of a packed room, and the leaders of the city and state schools attending and making major speeches, the meeting was ignored by the print media, and, Chalkbeat, the online education site, focused on the Rosa/Elia comments, “State ed officials rip into ‘insulting’ SUNY charter proposal and ‘outrageous’ Success Academy chair.”

I was chatting with a news site editor a few years ago, “I remind my reporters, there are two kinds of stories, ‘if it leads it bleeds’  and ‘cute kids and little puppies’.” I was aghast, the editor laughed, “You get the stories you want, we need screen views, “Clicks,” you click on the most outrageous or the cutest stories and ignore just plain boring news stories.

Investigative reporters look for “scandalous” stories, stories that will attract page views, investigations border on advocacy, the line between news, editorial and op ed are blurred. Are Twitter and Facebook news sites?  How many of us receive our news from Daily Kos or Breitbart? Are presidential tweets news? Should news sites report the tweets or comment on the accuracy of the tweet?

Governor Cuomo rarely, very rarely, holds a press conference, he releases news statements, he makes brief announcements, he controls the press, and, the press seems content with the arrangement. Mayor de Blasio has an antagonistic relationship with the media, who reports on the antagonism, not the news. President Trump is at war with the press, he portrays the press as the enemy.

Where do you get your news? newspapers, online newspapers, web sites, online news accumulators, Facebook, etc.,?   How do you know what to believe and what to reject?

Every morning I sift through my inbox …. what to delete and what to read? and, what to comment on …. what to retweet, what to share ….

Perhaps we should reread classics that are particularly relevant today, George Orwell’s “1984,” shot to the top of the Amazon list shortly after inauguration (Read NY Times  “Why 1984 is a Must Read“) and  Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (1951) Read why Arndt is essential reading here.

I respect and admire journalists in this combative climate, and I caution us all to sift carefully, Big Brother is watching us.

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3 responses to “What is News? How Do We Decide What News to Accept and What to Reject? Should News Be “Created?”  Why are George Orwell and Hannah Arndt Required Reading.

  1. Every morning I wake up hoping to discover from the media that the Secret Service did to Trump what the Praetorian guard did the Caligula.

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