It’s been really frustrating.
About a month or so ago I attended a public meeting on a topic about which I had written several stories. I had attended other meetings, carefully gathered the facts, and then labored over a clear and easy to understand story so that you, the readers, could know what was going on. I wanted you to be almost as well-informed as if you had done the research yourself.
Well, by the end of the meeting, I felt like I had wasted my time on that story.
Those attending the public meeting knew what was going on — or at least they thought they did. Person after person rose to their feet and asked a question that I’d already answered, or stated a “fact” that I had already debunked.
And then the very same thing happened at another meeting on a different topic in another town.
Now, I have not just crawled out from under a rock.
I know what newspaper subscription numbers are like. They’re falling, and they’ve been falling for about 20 years. Competition from radio, television, and now the Internet have carried readers away newspapers.
The thing is, I don’t think many people are getting local news from those sources either.
They’re relying for their news from the more important “journalists” in their lives — their friends, their neighbors, and that seer at the office who knows everything.
Again, I have not just crawled out from under a rock.
I know that people have gotten their information from often faulty sources for a long time.
But shouldn’t they be embarrassed? Shouldn’t they care that their “facts” are nothing more than falsehoods?
I take the news pretty seriously, and not just because I write for a newspaper. When something of interest happens in my community, I have always wanted to know the facts about what is going on.
And because I never used to be the type to show up at school board or city council meetings, I would rely on my local newspaper or radio station for an accurate report.
Truthfully, I would have been embarrassed to say something as a fact, and then found out it was nothing more than someone’s opinion.
The truth is out there, and I want to know what it is.
And yes, I do know that I am preaching to the choir in talking with all of you. You read this newspaper because you value factual reporting. You want to know what’s going on in your world, and you search out the truth from a more reliable source than the woman down the block or the guy in the next cubicle.
There’s nothing wrong with ignorance, which simply means you don’t know the answer. If you don’t know something, you ask.
But I have a problem with wallowing in ignorance, not knowing or caring about the truth, and then casually spreading half-truths and downright falsehoods.
So climb out from under your rock. Read a paper, listen to the news, or call someone who really knows the answer.
It would be better for all of us.
BCR Staff Writer Barb Kromphardt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.