The NY Times published a short piece covering a protest against banning some news outlets from a briefing by the White House Press Secretary last Friday. In my opinion, the protest was well warranted and worth covering. Others will be more eloquent and lengthy in their affirmations of the importance of a free press. I support them and think we need to deal with the real threat that exists at this moment. Having said that, the article covering the protest disturbed me because it revealed, probably inadvertently, one of our country’s current major problems – not limited to the press and media.
The article began:
On Sunday morning, the time when many engage in the weekend ritual of reading the news over coffee, a large crowd converged outside The New York Times’s Manhattan headquarters on Eighth Avenue to defend the country’s press. “It’s a New York Sunday tradition,” read a sign held by Norman Cohen, a freelance TV producer, “Coffee, Bagels, and a FREE PRESS.”
The article ended:
As the protest concluded, some people waved Sunday’s edition of The Times, folded to reveal a full-page advertisement from the newspaper. It read: “Truth. It’s more important now than ever.”
There is another Sunday ritual that New Yorker’s engage in: Sunday Church services. On Sunday, many New Yorkers were at Church rather than “reading the news over coffee.” Was this Sunday reality overlooked because many church-goers were in the less fashionable neighborhoods of the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn and in languages other than English?
Full disclosure – I bought a bagel yesterday morning and had it with coffee and I went to Church. They are both good things – not quite of equal weight. If “truth is more important than ever,” then the media might want to get the story right. And that means providing readers and listeners with a fuller context and paying attention to what one fails to include in the story. So let me write a different lead sentence: “On Sunday morning, the time when many are at Church and others engage is the weekend ritual of reading the news….” “Truth. It’s more important than ever.” The bubbles we live in create barriers that are hard to penetrate.