As in many walks of life, journalism is a game. The l948
Webster`s Dictionary definition of journalism is, ” the business
of managing, editing, or writing for, journals or newspapers.”
And most newspapers and magazines and television news programs
are published and produced as a business, to bring projects to
Thus we get into the secondary definitions of journalism in
Webster’s Dictionary, copyright l941, (a) “the collection and
editing of material of current interest for presentation through
news media, (b) writing designed to appeal to current popular
taste or public interest (c) writing which aims at a mass audience.”
Everyday voluminous amounts of news is created by the myriad
events that occur, and it would be an impossibility to report on
all of them. Thus choices must be made by reporters and editors
as to what is really of importance and of interest to their
audience, and in what manner it is going to be presented.
In American journalism generally, a death is of top priority,
followed by catastrophes, fires, and reporting on the activities
of the President.
Again in America, the media is free to publish anything they
wish, whether true or not, subject only to the risk of a libel
suit or suit because of obscenity. Both of these are extremely
difficult to prosecute and win, and so the media hs wide latitude
to publish what they will.
Most, if not all, publishers and broadcasters take advantage
of this freedom to select news that suits their personal bias,
and to report it in such a manner as to advance their personal
Thus, in watching television, or reading a publication, one
should always first ascertain the personal views of the owners so
that one can better judge the story for completeness of content,
accuracy and bias.
The same can be said for standard books of reference, like
dictionaries, encyclopedias, and textbooks. Pick nearly any word
or subject, and trace it through different editions of the
dictionary, and you will find a wide variance based on the
changing bias of the publishers over the years.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary evolution on defiining
“Jesus” is an interesting example of what I mean. In the l941
edition, Jesus is defined as “the son of Mary, the source of the
Christian religion and Saviour in the Christian faith.”
in a l981 edition, Jesus is defined as “the Jewish religious
teacher whose life, death, and resurrection as reported by the
Evangelists are the basis of the Christian message of salvation.”
No mention is made that over one billion people consider
him the Son of God and the Messiah.
My earliest observance of this occurred when I went to new
York City as a young man straight out of college, and began to
read all its daily newspapers; then being, the New York Times ,
the orld Tribune , the Journal-American , the Daily News ,
the Daily Mirror , the New York Post , the Wall Street
Journal , and the Long Island Press .
In fact, it was necessary to read all of these, and more, if
one wished to be informed of the facts of any particular
happening, as the various reporters and editors had shaped and
selected the facts to suit their own purposes so much that the
innocent reader of a single news source could be woefully
Another important criteria is to consider the source–AP,
UPI, INS, Reuters, the BBC. For accuracy, I have found Reuters,
the BBC, and UPI to be the best, and AP and INS to be
Peter Howard, AP correspondent and author, related to me his
experiences as a correspondent in the South during the Civil
Rights struggles of l961-62. He stated that he would file the
facts as he knew them, but by the time the North Carolina re-
write desk was finished with his work, and sent it out on the
wires, he would not even recognize his own words.
Most anyone can verify his experience by attending a public
affiar in person, and then hearing or reading about it the next
day. In nealry all cases, it is as if you and the reporters had
attended two completely different functions.