Get Informed, Stay Informed, Start Before Election Season

Andy Rooney once put forth the proposition that people who do not bother to stay up on the issues of the day should not vote, possibly canceling out his informed and carefully considered vote. I can agree in principal. I’ve watched people try to sift through and understand current events for the last 30 days before an election, having ignored all the relevant issues for the previous 23-47 months.

It doesn’t work well. Many fall victim to the pundits who shout the loudest, their message being heard by virtue of being the most visible and most repeated.

There are information sources that try to inform and some that try to mislead. Some mean well but don’t know much, some know much but don’t mean well, some know much and mean well, but suffer from being too boring to get much attention.

Mean well but don’t know much: Many but not all actors and actresses. You’ve seen them on late night talk shows. Both sides of the fence

Know much but don’t mean well: Rush, Bill, Sean. An informed person can spot the flaws and deceptions in their shtick. It’s designed to sound reasonable if you don’t know better. They probably believe they are doing the right thing no matter the means, to try to pull you to their point of view.

But you don’t have to believe my opinion of Rush, Bill, and Sean. Your mission as a voter is to get informed and stay informed. Watching one news show a day on TV is the wrong approach. You must READ.

TV news is horrible. The news items are boiled down to segments so short that the best one can do is get a few facts with little or no context, and none of the required depth to truly understand. It’s fine for a news item where no depth is required, like a car wreck, but for any topic even slightly more complicated it is inadequate.

What about TV news magazines you ask? Like dateline and 60 minutes? While not as bad as headline news shows, the open secret is that television has been compromised. These companies need their broadcast licenses which are renewed periodically by the executive branch of the US government. Back in the watergate days Nixon threatened to go after some of these licenses when the watergate poop was heading toward the fan. He did and it cost the broadcasters in question millions of dollars to defend their licenses. Message sent and received. Newspapers do not rely on any federal licenses.

The answer is to read. Newspaper articles go into much more depth than TV news shows. With the internet you have access to many more newspapers and they are indexed on search engines such as google. You can follow the topics that interest you most and ignore the rest. While developing your skills as a consumer of news, stick to the major papers at first. Ignore the right and left wing press. You want to start with newspapers that attempt to do actual journalism, that have standards. No newspaper is perfect. A paper that occasionally fires reporters for cause is a paper with at least some standards (in contrast to Fox cable news which still employs Bill).

Elections are never simple. The lies, truths, distortions, scandals, muck, all can quickly blend together and the unprepared voter may go astray. It would help if you could identify the reliable sources of information before the frenzy. So start now!