I received a call from a friend last week. She, in a somewhat exasperated tone said, “Have you ever heard anything as biased as that story on the Randy Barton Show (KPCW) about the School Board’s First Public Master Planning Meeting?” She was referring to a recorded segment by a KPCW reporter that aired during Randy Barton’s show last Tuesday or Wednesday. My friend felt that the report was extremely biased toward the School Board’s committee plans and didn’t accurately reflect the tone of the meeting, which was one of a very concerned populace. She said the reporter basically took each topic and said “a few people were concerned with [insert negative here]; however [insert person’s name here] doesn’t think so. [Insert one minute audio clip of the person saying why the plan is so good].
My friend’s closing comment intrigued me. She said, “If KPCW is so obviously biased on something I know a lot about, are they just as biased on everything else they report?”
The honest answer is that all media has biases, just like every person. The people who report for the Park Record can be biased. KPCW can be biased. I can be biased (obviously, since the Park Rag is a lot of commentary). Yet, what we are really talking about here is trust. Because we can’t all be at every meeting and draw conclusions for ourselves, we all depend on our community news sources like the Park Record and KPCW to tell us what happened. We trust them. However, when people know what happened at a meeting, but it’s reported very differently, that trust begins to erode. It makes people like my friend start to question everything they hear.
Lest you think this may have been a rant from just one person, I have heard other people in the community bring up this same news report and question its objectivity.
Unfortunately for KPCW it appears they had a bad day, but it’s going to take many good days in a row to change the perception from that one piece of reporting (in many people’s minds). In my opinion it doesn’t signal some change in attitude or lessening of the value KPCW provides, but again it highlights that we all need to seek out as many sources of information to educate us on the topics we care about. It’s not enough to simply peruse an article in the Park Record, listen to a story on KPCW, or read something here. We also have to verify that information, too. Or as one elder statesman said, “Trust but Verify.”*
This incident on KPCW serves as a good reminder of that fact.
*Yes, I did just use a Ronald Reagan quote, which means that many of you will likely no longer trust me either.