Tuesday, April 15, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Beware of perceptions as you seek ‘news’

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From page A8 | January 27, 2013 | 29 Comments

Fox News Latino reported a story Monday under the headline, “Inauguration ‘Blues’: Ceremony Falls on ‘Most Depressing Day of the Year.’

The story was pegged to a supposition by a psychologist in the U.K. who believes that the third Monday in January is, for a variety of reasons, the most depressing day of the year. The designation of “Blue Monday” takes into account such things as personal debt, the post-holiday letdown that many people experience, and even the weather, according to the Fox News Latino report.

To the credit of Fox News Latino, the designation is labeled as pseudoscience in the second paragraph.

The report quickly moves away from the inauguration reference, which after the headline appears only once – in the third paragraph – and offers suggestions for those who may feel down this time of year. Those suggestions include getting out into the sunshine, beginning or maintaining an exercise regimen, and scheduling some fun time into your week.

It’s about spin.

The “hook” of the inauguration to an article about a phenomenon of questionable scientific validity shows how mass media can skew reporting to play on people’s perceptions. The inauguration itself prompted different responses from different quarters. For example, my wife was physically ill Monday. She couldn’t bring herself to watch the inauguration ceremonies on television, marking as they did the start of another four years of an Obama administration.

How did you read that? Remember, we’re discussing perception.

The fact is that my wife was ill. She was taking medication prescribed to her by her doctor, and was improving. She slept in Monday morning, even though she was awakened early enough in the morning by her coughs to have watched the inauguration on television. She chose instead to rest, and to catch up on the events of the day, later in the day.

She’s a supporter of the president: She has voted for him twice now. She would have thoroughly enjoyed watching the inauguration live on television, but was not well enough to do so.

Did you catch how I did that? I started the column by alluding to the inauguration in a negative context, using a report from Fox News Latino that linked Inauguration Day to depression. I then wrote the sentences about my wife in a way that, based on the reader’s perception, may lead one to believe that my wife was not a supporter of the president. I didn’t say it, but the context of the column would tend to lead you to believe so, even though the opposite is true.

That’s how a message can be twisted.

Local columnist Mike Kirchubel this past week completed a three-column series on how Fox News covers the news. He makes valid points throughout the series, but makes no effort to note that what he implies is business as usual at Fox News also takes place at left-leaning news organizations, such as MSNBC, for example.

The message I would send, and do send, is for the viewing audience – and readers – to be skeptical of opinion masquerading as news, whatever the source. This column and Mr. Kirchubel’s columns, for example, appear in the Opinion page and in the Opinion category on the Daily Republic’s website. The Fox News Latino report appeared under the Health category on its website, which to me is a news category.

That’s just my perception. And my wife is feeling much better.

Reach Glen Faison at 427-6925 or gfaison@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.

Glen Faison

Glen Faison

Glen Faison joined the Daily Republic as managing editor in September 2009. He has worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in the San Joaquin Valley for 20-plus years. His experience includes time as editor of the Golden Eagle, a military paper serving the Lemoore Naval Air Station. He graduated from Fresno State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and bleeds Bulldogs red. He is an avid Washington Redskins fan, and attended the 1988 NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings at RFK Stadium. He married his wife, Jill, in 2005, and has three children: Courtni, Tyler and Hayli.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 29 comments

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  • Mike kirchubelJanuary 27, 2013 - 10:12 am

    Fair enough, Glen, but i would like to remind those who frequent this site that the DR opnion page is heavily tilted to the right And that none of those cartoons or articles ever mention the progressive side of the story And DR management never, ever feels the compelling need to remind the readers that there is another side, usually the truthful side, that remains untold. You seem to be perfectly happy to let lisa benson, Mike Ramirez, Tom sowell, Bill orilley, star Parker, Jay Ambrose, et al twist the truth all week long, yet feel compelled to remind readers that Mike is only offering his slanted opinion. Good balance.

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  • Tom ChalkJanuary 27, 2013 - 10:43 am

    Mike: Your reaction to Glen's column gives this reader much insight into your thought processes. You simply don't recognize "the truth" when it bites you on the bottom. For you, "the truth" can only emanate from the progressive side of the political spectrum--end of story. Could it be that "truth," like "beauty," is in the eye of the beholder?

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  • Mike kirchubelJanuary 27, 2013 - 11:00 am

    Tom , my point was that Glen only feels the need to criticize my articles And Not everybody else's. By the Way, comparing fox to msnbc is a false equivalent. Msnbc viewers require proof of assertions And get it.., fox viewers, apparently, do Not. I watch both.

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  • rlw895January 27, 2013 - 11:22 pm

    Seems like I'm late to the party. Good column, Glen. But I think Mike has a legitimate gripe. Mike, you stole my thunder about "false equivalence." It gives license to the worse of two offenders. I was about to say I would be satisfied if people just figured MSNBC were the FOX of the left. That would mean the rest of the media would be somewhere in the middle. That's an improvement for people who think FOX is the middle and everything else if left. But you are correct; I shouldn't "settle." MSNBC viewers ARE more demanding and discriminating. I don't know of anyone who depends on MSNBC for his/her only source of information (or entertainment) like we hear so much from FOX viewers. That's because FOX viewers are absolutely convinced only FOX occupies the middle. My advice to anyone is to get more than one source of information, preferably a non-commercial source, before you commit too much to one point of view. Trust, if you want, but verify.

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  • Everybody do the TWIST again!January 27, 2013 - 10:47 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh8eb_ACLl8

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Glen FaisonJanuary 27, 2013 - 1:44 pm

    @Mike Kirchubel: I wasn't trying to throw you under the bus. I began with a critique of a Fox News Latino "news" item, and attempted to bring it home a bit more to Fairfield by referencing your three-column series on Fox News, acknowledging that you made valid points throughout the series. It seemed a natural fit because it tied in to your thesis. My reference to left-leaning news organizations was to show that your columns are indeed opinion, and I follow by specifically noting that your views appear on the opinion pages of the paper, and under the opinion category on the DR's website, as opposed to Fox News Latino's handling of the item that got this column rolling. Yes, we tend to be more conservative on the opinion pages of the paper, particularly as it relates to syndicated columns and cartoons, and in our local editorials. In terms of local opinion page columnists, Bud Stevenson writes weekly, when he is able to do so, and Murray Bass writes monthly from the conservative perspective. You and Kelvin Wade each write weekly and fall more to the liberal side.There are also a few irregular columnists, some liberal, some conservative, who appear here from time to time. Deon Price focuses on youth-related issues, twice a month, and Ted Puntillo talks veteran's issues once a month. So while we tilt more right on syndicated material, I believe we have a pretty good balance of local commentators. I would love to have more local columnists -- liberal, conservative and middle of the road -- to write regularly for our readers. That, due to space limitations, would mean that there would be less syndicated material on the opinion pages. If you know of anyone, or if anyone reading this knows of anyone, who's interested in taking the plunge, please have them get in touch with me. The opinion page should be a place of vibrant discussion, a place where people are challenged on their opinions. And as I state in this column, opinion should not masquerade as news, which I believe Fox News Latino did with the incident item.

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  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 27, 2013 - 7:07 pm

    This is what galls me about your piece: "That’s how a message can be twisted. Local columnist Mike Kirchubel this past week completed a three-column series on how Fox News covers the news. He makes valid points throughout the series, but makes no effort to note that what he implies is business as usual at Fox News also takes place at left-leaning news organizations, such as MSNBC, for example." Truly a false equivalency. As though I, and MSNBC are twisting the truth, just the same as Fox News. Like MSNBC, I spend a lot of time simply refuting the rumors and half-truths propagated by right-wing sources. Take your Mike Rodriquez cartoon today: the message, loud and clear, is that Hillary Clinton does not care about the lost lives in Benghazi. How simple would it have been to provide the contex, at least Hillary's whole sentence, so that the truth would be seen and Rodriquez's hypocrisy clearly evident? That would be a wonderful thing to do and much more in keeping with the lost point you were trying to make. Sorry it took so long to get back to you today; i'm still sore from being run over by a bus.

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  • Personally I think....January 27, 2013 - 10:53 am

    The paper should have a Consipracy Nut column written by moi. It could take the place of News of the Weird on at least a once a month basis. Actually only a Nut is daring enough to tell the truth.

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  • We are starting a new NOT Secret SocietyJanuary 27, 2013 - 9:18 pm

    SONNET.....Society Of Noble Nuts Endorsing Truth.....The SONNET Society....Dedicated to all us Nuts...Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?.... Thou art more lovely and more temperate:..... Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,... And summer's lease hath all too short a date:.... Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,.... And often is his gold complexion dimmed,.... And every fair from fair sometime declines,... By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:..... But thy eternal summer shall not fade,.... Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,.... Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,.... When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,.... So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,.... So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

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  • CD BrooksJanuary 27, 2013 - 10:56 am

    Geez Glen, my perception is honed to razor sharpness and I am always skeptical of the comparisons between a local paper and balanced news. I for one never rely upon a singular medium to get my information. I am a little disappointed by your shot at Mike, not terribly professional in my opinion.

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  • Glen FaisonJanuary 27, 2013 - 1:55 pm

    @CD Brooks: Sorry to disappoint. I wasn't trying to take a shot at Mike, but I can see how it may be interpreted as such. I was transitioning back and forth a lot in this one, and likely could have handled it differently. I agree fully that everyone should get their news from a variety of sources. It used to be that people got the major metro in their area and the local daily (or two in those cities that were fortunate enough to have competing dailies), and perhaps a local weekly paper and a national publication. Now there are fewer papers, and more options than ever to get news, particularly national and international news. I also believe that everyone should beware of opinion masquerading as news. There's a great deal of that in a variety of media.

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  • Danny BuntinJanuary 27, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    @Glen: Seems more to me that you are picking the low lying fruit, to please the master. Mike does have a little fun with his columns, but the foundation of is words are rock solid. He is not paid to put out talking points to numb society, his words are strictly to enlighten the electorate with facts. The "my wife voted twice for the president" is a clear sign that this was nothing more then a hit piece.

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  • Glen FaisonJanuary 27, 2013 - 4:38 pm

    @Danny Buntin: I don't follow how the reference to my wife's support of the president, in the illustrative context of the column, makes it a hit piece. I do agree that finding things to question about some aspects of Fox News can be considered low-hanging fruit, with the "Most Depressing Day of the Year" item but one recent example. I also agree that Mike is not paid to put out talking points to "numb society," as you describe it. In fact, he's not paid at all. He does this for his own purposes, which I'm sure he's happy to share with anyone who asks. I believe part of that purpose is, as you suggest, to enlighten the electorate.

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  • Danny BuntinJanuary 27, 2013 - 5:04 pm

    Obviously you are walking backwards with your column, or you would not be redefining it throughout the comments sections. I am clearly aware that Mike does not get paid for his writings. My point on that was that most of the headliners are paid, and paid for a reason - to persuade the reader against there own self interests. The low lying fruit refers to picking on the guy/gal that can do the least to ones career(Yours). Your mentioning of MSNBC to prove your equivalency, is backed up with nothing. There is a huge difference between the two networks. MSNBC is at least in the ballpark of journalism, while FOX has fought in court over the right to lie to its audience. Big difference Glen. So stop pushing the equivalence thing, to justify FOXNews and its methods.

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  • Scuttle BuntinJanuary 27, 2013 - 6:26 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHEVIWpX2XM

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Perry Como Danny BoyJanuary 27, 2013 - 6:50 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3lPYtRy2J4

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • John McDermott - Danny BoyJanuary 27, 2013 - 7:13 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ4PVYoeIfw

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Best? Danny Boy by Brenda CochraneJanuary 27, 2013 - 7:47 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zck-Kob_wc

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tom ChalkJanuary 27, 2013 - 6:18 pm

    Glen: Good luck trying to reason with Mike and his fellow liberals on this site. Their reactions and responses tend to be more robotic (Pavlovian?) than reasoning, particularly if you dare to disagree with one of them. I think the DR does a good job of maintaining balance between the left and the right on the political spectrum. That opinion, of course, is another (small) strike against the paper on this webite. Sorry.

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  • Danny BuntinJanuary 27, 2013 - 9:18 pm

    @Tom Chalk: So a heavy tilt to the right in numbers on the opinion page is fair in your world Tom? Glen never addressed my points. I parrot nothing that I do not investigate myself first. Glen is only trying justify FoxNews manner of reporting, by talking about both sides do it bull-spit - which is false.

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  • I still like MikeJanuary 27, 2013 - 11:08 am

    My name is Luna, Mike will you perform posting w/me?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 27, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    Let's look at today's stupid mike rodriquez cartoon showing Hillary Clinton sitting on the graves of the 4 Americans killed in Benghai, saying , "What difference does it make?" This is the right-wing take on her testimony and has been repeated throughout mainstream media endlessly, as if she doesn't give a darn about those dead Americans. What she really said was quite different: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make! It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator." Quiet a different story, indeed. But who cares about the truth when you can have a cartoon that feeds into right-wing delusions?

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  • Tom ChalkJanuary 27, 2013 - 1:57 pm

    Mike: Hillary's emotional outburst accomplished exactly what she intended it to do--evoking the memory of the four dead Americans just as the panel was about to pin her to the wall on why the dreadful event was allowed to happen, and looking as though she was about to become hysterical, threw the entire panel off track and she "skated" on through the hearing after that. The Republicans wimped out, and the Dems asked innocuous questions and/or praised her for her (non) role in the sorry affair. Pure Clintonesque drama and theatre of the absurd! It worked, unfortunately. It sickens me. I am certain that I am not alone on this.

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  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 27, 2013 - 6:41 pm

    Darn, I'm sure you are as disappointed as all the Republicans that they couldn't prove anything against Hillary,"just as the panel was about to pin her to the wall on why the dreadful event was allowed to happen." If only they had one more minute, right?

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  • Tom ChalkJanuary 27, 2013 - 7:34 pm

    Jeez, Mike: If you could just read and comprehend what I am trying to say before you do your liberal knee-jerk spasm, we could stop talking past each other. My point was this: The Repubs were cowed by Hillary's fake outburst of angst, and therefore the hearing disintegrated into the usual pablum and photo-op frenzy.

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  • rlw895January 27, 2013 - 11:59 pm

    Tom: Or it could be the issue was finally devolving as I predicted--though too late for me to win our bet! The Republicans want to put this issue behind them because their line of inquiry has no benefit to them post-election. It plays to their base, but what good is that? They could see it blowing up in their face if Clinton had one more minute, not them. "Allowed to happen?" What do you mean by that? Things happen, even when not "allowed." That was her point. So she was imperfect. Chris Stevens was imperfect. They both paid a price, him with his life. It DOES matter what happened, so we can learn from it. In that, Clinton misspoke. But who can stretch that to "she doesn't care," when she choked up talking about the time she spent with the families. That was the real telling moment of the hearing. That was genuine, from the "boss" who felt responsible and took the responsibility. One of the toughest ladies in the world brought to tears remembering. And then she has to listen to a jerk like Rand Paul say he would have fired her on the spot. Who would you rather have as president, Rand or Hillary? That was why the Republicans wanted, finally, to escape the room, and not come back. At least we can hope.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Woody Allen vs CREEPY BuckleyJanuary 27, 2013 - 12:06 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=GNErWi_lTig&feature=endscreen

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Upper Class Twit of the YearJanuary 27, 2013 - 12:11 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imWlSMgMFGE&NR=1&feature=endscreen

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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