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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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112. Elders: Who Are They and Do We Really Need Them? - [74]

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1. Who are you going to vote for and why? - [233]

 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 13,189,604  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 22

Lurker/Post Ratio: 1489 to 1

Question of the Week: 70 - 12/10/2001

What's News?

Are you a news junkie? Do you watch or read the news on a regular basis? Why or why not? What are your favorite news news programs and media sources? Do you think that the news is generally fair or is it biased? Are you getting the news that you want or do you think that the news is being spun, controlled or otherwise influenced by corporate interests or the government? What sort of news items would you like to see more of on Wren's Nest?

 Reponses:   There are 22 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I Am Definitely Not A News Junkie. In Fact, I Put Myself... Dec 9th. at 8:32:41 pm EST

Brigid (Denver, Colorado US) Age: 32

I am definitely not a news junkie. In fact, I put myself on "news fasts" often. I find that too much watching or following of the news causes me to feel unrest. I have difficulty sleeping, my eating habits change, and I am generally crankier. I watch enough of the news to find out the basics about events, and that's it. I find other pursuits to occupy my time.

I feel that the news is generally biased toward the political bent of the publisher. Everyone knows which paper is the "conservative" one, and which is the "liberal" one, in any particular town. I feel that the news can be reported in an objective manner, and sometimes it is; but when a story is particularly explosive, exploitative, or heinous, the report tends to be biased.

Of course, I feel following the news is important, in order to have a general awareness about the world. However, I do not think it is as important as the media would try to make be believe.

For The Record, I Would Like To Point Out That I Don't... Dec 8th. at 10:43:47 pm EST

Jenne/Morrigan-Aa (Woodbridge, New Jersey US) Age: 26 - Email

For the record, I would like to point out that I don't have cloven hooves or a pitchfork.

I happen to be a member of the dreaded media that's been so reviled by previous respondents. However, I am accustomed to being hated, both on the job for what I am, and off the job for being a Witch. In a way, that's what drew me to journalism; I've had rocks thrown at my head since I was a child for my religion, so a few through my window for my profession didn't seem as bad.

Not that I was always a journalist. I am a graduate student, and will undergo my doctoral defense next week. I taught college writing, wrote grants for an environmental organization, organized an office for a Holocaust Center - none of which paid the bills. I turned to journalism because I was a good writer who needed a flexible schedule, benefits and fullt-iem employment. That was three years ago, and it's been a love-hate relationship ever since.

I'm not a cynical human being; I do weave my spirituality into my work as a beat reporter for a daily newspaper, even though I don't profess my religion to people on my beat (it would be akin to expressing my political opinions, similarly verboten). I see everyone I meet as the face of the God/dess: the man who shot up a nightclub; conniving politicians and those who honestly want to make a difference; the "evil" developer who bulldozed a swathe of woods, yet also happens to be a Holocaust survivor with a great sense of humor; the paralyzed woman protesting for the legalization of cannabis; the elderly library volunteer. Heck, I extend that beyond the people I meet at work to the lady at the DMV, the maple tree in front of my house, the possum hiding out in the bushes. Everyone, everything, has a lesson to teach.

Compassion - and listening - are spiritual disciplines, no matter what your job, or lack thereof. Journalism takes thick skin, but it also takes a certain openness, a willingness to reach out to people that you otherwise wouldn't like or talk to, to reach out and truly *listen* to what they say, whether or not it gets in the paper. It's a tough profession, but one open to grace and beauty in a million forms, if you know where to look for it.

Sure, I could talk about the capitalist pressures, or the process by which news gets into print. I wish more people understood that, honestly, but my post is getting a bit long as it is. I guess I'd just like people - Pagan or otherwise - to understand that reporters, assignment editors, photographers, camera people, etc. are not demons from a Bosch depiction of the inferno. We're human beings who have a particular job to do. We kiss our loved ones, garden, change the oil in our cars. Some of us are even spiritual beings.

I Recently Gave A Search For What Looks Lke A Promising Skin... Dec 8th. at 2:09:50 am EST

David (OZ, North Carolina US) Age: 3

I recently gave a search for what looks lke a promising skin cancer treatment and a maybe not so sure about one for internal cancers. A search for casama black may not turn up the site. Do a search for Alpha omega labs. Of course use at you own risk.

I Used To Watch The News And Other Tv But Am Trying... Dec 8th. at 1:58:17 am EST

David (OZ, North Carolina US) Age: 3

I used to watch the news and other TV but am trying to remove it from my life since about a year ago. When I go back I only want to deal in fantasy. I don't have any favorites. The news is being controlled because if they opened things really up it would shift the balance of power. The present economy would be destroyed and a new kind of money system would have to come in whatever, whoever that would bee. I would lke to see Wrens Everybodys Nest start to do interviews other than just showing things that are comming off the wire of this place and that. Do interviews with alternative heath treatments that look promising. (Wren listen too me). I was doing a search for Andrew Weil and found this site do not remember exact do search for casama black. They give peoples e-mail that claim it is working wonders for skin cancers. They also have products for internal cancers but not very many to contact. Cancell do search never called women that has discussion group but found out that she is 80 some and is named Ollie. Have gotten supplies to perform Agnihotra but I kinda don't want to take them out of the box and keep the fantasy alive. Keep informed.

As A Pagan In The News Business (i'm The City Editor Of... Dec 7th. at 1:20:56 pm EST

Daniel (Charleston, South Carolina US) Age: 38 - Email

As a pagan in the news business (I'm the city editor of a metro newspaper), the question for me isn't so much what's spun, but how to apply the Rede and the Three-fold law to what I do. I don't know that I do it particularly well.

News is, by its very nature, intrusive. Intrusiveness isn't always bad - if you've got a bullet in your chest, for instance, intrusive surgery is most welcome - but there's just no way around the fact that journalists are expected to "probe, " "dig" and "scoop." And anytime you're publicly intruding into people's lives, the "if it harm none" clause gets pretty dicey.

I'm not entirely sure whether my attempts to apply this to my job are entirely truthful, or just artful rationalization. I do think, however, that what we do does serve a higher purpose, at least in the sense of the secular world. We need to know what's going on. We need to question and challenge authority. And we need to do all of this not out of ego (ah, the difficult part) but out of some kind of belief in truth.

But truth is the problem. What most casual observers won't pick up from just consuming the news is that "truth" is not the real goal of news coverage. Truth is a larger issue, and depends upon the observer. Newspeople must be satisfied with a more pedestrian epistomology: truth that can be proved (often in court). Documents. Attributable statements. Things said on the witness stand. Whenever the story moves beyond provable facts, our only tool is the quote from someone else "expressing opinion."

To go beyond those rules is to face lawsuits. While the threat of legal action looms over practically ever story, newspapers used to accept the fact that every great story included the possibility of legal exposure. Now, with profits down and budgets tight, editors are increasingly wary of anything that could land them in court.

While these standard rules of journalism seem, on their face, to be fair and unbiased, they result in slanted coverage. For instance, a government official with an outrageously false version of a story will often be quoted, even though the reporter knows (usually off the record) that the statement is a lie. Why? Because the official belongs in the story (how can you write a story about the mayor without talking to him?). And why don't we then challenge the statement that we know to be a lie? Because if we don't have "the facts" to back up our version of the "truth, " it's as if none of that knowledge even exists.

Since governments and corporations are able to control the release of much of the proof against them - and since they know the rules we must play under - they're very skilled at using these rules against us to create a favorable story. The average person is not, and doesn't have a job title that will give his or her words equal credibility.

But a large part of what news consumers view as bias is simply fatigue. Despite "the largest peacetime economic expansion in history" many newsrooms shrunk during the 1990s, and the trend exploded in 2001. Newspapers are attempting to cover the same ground we once held with much larger staffs, and people like myself are particularly squeezed. Twelve-hour days are common for mid-level assigning editors, which not only drains our brains but deprives us of the lives that would help keep news coverage in a better perspective.

Finally, there is the issue of overt bias. It's my experience that such bias does exist - although for many of the people who create it, the bias is anything but overt. Most journalists truly struggle with controlling their biases, but the danger is never from the bias you recognize. It's from the attitude or experience that is so deeply ingrained that you don't even realize it's there. Ultimately, you believe and trust what you know, and for journalists who have risen to top decision-making posts, what they tend to know is golf, social clubs and other executives. I don't think most set out to skew the news toward that perspective, but it happens.

As for the idea of "media conspiracies, " let's get real. In most newsrooms, it's a good day if you can figure out who's covering cops and whether or not you sent someone to cover that dinky (but EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!!!) press conference over at the chamber of commerce.

A lot of us wish we could quit and go do something else, but it's kinda hard to give up on a job that actually enjoys constitutional protection and is supposed to stand as one of the pillars of democracy. And so we muddle on, trying to put out something of value, in hopes that it will come back on us all threefold...

Like All Humans, I Have A Desire To Understand The World About... Dec 7th. at 8:45:54 am EST

spiravdaeg (Bradenton, Florida US) Age: 47 - Email

Like all humans, I have a desire to understand the world about me. Like many Americans, I am limited to one of the big 5 news sources (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox) for the most part as regards prime time television news. In addition, I find welcome relief in the alternative viewpoints offered by Free Speech Television and Radio. For contrast I compare reporters like Amy Goodman to Dan Rather (talk of different and yet note the similarities of vehemence of opinion and tone!.

The problem is that all news is slanted. If not by the organization controlling the release or the reporter who actually presents the story, than by myself the viewer. A type of filtering occurs as what is being displayed is received by the person watching. In my case, myself. And this is not bad or wrong, just a state of having opinion.

What is needed is less concentration on any particular agenda or direction and more attention to just delivering the captured images and sound. As close to perfect a newscast would be a bland voice stating, "This occurred at ....." and then a release of any video or audio recorded. At least, this is my opinion. In other words, let the viewer decide what happened, let the viewer reach conclusions and thus decide on what is felt about the event. But, this shall never be.

We need to be told I suppose that in order to be more attractive, successful, healthy, intelligent and moral that we need to use certain products guaranteed to bring those things about. We need to be told that in this case killing, lying, stealing, hurting is good and in that case it is bad. After all, we all certainly are not responsible enough to make up our own minds and guide our own actions. Or are we?

As long as the media is controlled, bias will be a given. We point to corporate interests, political interests, religious interests for the reasons that bias is so prevalent. We need as honest persons to realize that the set of conditions that make up today's news arena is largely the fault of our own. We do not have to buy that new item to make our lives better, nor smell of any certain scent, nor take that drug or go to that restaurant to be a success.

Nor do we have to believe anything that any other says. But we have done so, for quite a while now. All of us. From hairspray to computers, from cars to tarot cards; all and more, we are guilty of letting outside opinion and ideas color our choices. Kind of makes me wonder about the strength of will we have developed as a species.

Freedom to just be individuals is rapidly disappearing. I can only urge all of us to cultivate the gifts of doubt and reflection. Allow your own hearts and minds to determine your courses, as I will mine. Then and only then can we make magic - change. For each of us as parts of this world and each of us apart from this world.

News on the Nest? Wren, just keep on doing as you find is best. As Gawain chose - a woman wants only to decide for herself right? Good advice to all of us. Decide for yourself, as we all should for ourselves.

I Definitely Want To Know Whats Happening In The World, Especially Out... Dec 7th. at 5:16:48 am EST

Raindancer (Christchurch, New Zealand) Age: 53 - Email

I definitely want to know whats happening in the world, especially out in this remote part of the world. I listen to the news on the radio every morning to see what happened while I was asleep. Back in my pre-parent days when I had more time, I would read the paper practically in its entirety. I watch the late night news on TV. I have a pretty insatiable curiosity, and a thirst for knowledge.

Junkie? No, I don't think so. That term conjures up all sorts of images that suggest compulsion rather than desire. I like to learn and add to my knowledge.

But I also agree with those who voice their disgust with both the news media and the government. News used to be as someone here said, information. Now, its more informative entertainment. They tell us what they think will titillate and entertain us. If that means playing fast and loose with the truth, well, moral integrity is nice in the movies, but it don't boost ratings.

Likewise, anyone who thinks the government tells us the whole story, and nothing but the truth, has to have been dropped on their head as a kid. We hear what they want us to hear.

In both cases, we are a commodity they need us to behave in certain ways whether its to buy something, vote for somebody, sign up for the army, support a particular slant on things. Without us they couldn't exist. In pursuit of economic, and political survival, they will not hesitate to put whatever spin will sell the product, ao pull the wool over people's eyes.

Democracy needs an informed citizenry to work at its best. People need to know the facts before they can make informed decisions. But to the corporate/political mind, thats too risky, we can't be trusted because we might not choose to follow the path they would like us to follow.

For decades, we have been undergoing mental processing, our baser desires appealed to, our intellectual and critical faculties eroded because an intelligent, inquisitive, and independent minded population, cannot be molded and shaped to deliver what the corporations and politicians want delivered.

What they want are sheep, People who will go where they are pointed, and do what they're told. To these people, freedom isn't the right to challenge policy, or oppose the rulers, its the right to decide whether to buy a blue car or a red one, what kind of cereal to buy, whether to vote for Tweedledeedee or Tweedledeedum. They think we're stupid and are making sure we stay that way.

If you think about it, this productizing of the people has permeated all sorts of nooks and crannies of society. People are bought and sold every day. Nobody even challenges the idea that people are commodities to be bought and sold. Never mind that they have lives, families, hopes and dreams.

Whats important is the bottom line. If they don't help the bottom line, toss them out like a kleenex that you just blew your nose in and toss them out. Run an ad and get another. We have been conditioned to believe that this is right and proper. We are not people, we are products being shaped to behave in ways that have been determined by others who care only for the gold in their pockets.

I lay the first blame on the corporations who first cynically set out to create the consumercratic way of life. Second, I blame the politicians who got bought by the corporations and those to whom the bottom line is get re-elected, the public be damned.

I blame the newsmedia because they whore themselves to the corporations and are willing participants in the system, and exercise their own people processing to create higher ratings at the expense of getting to the core of issues and problems, and letting the chips fall where they may. Spines can be very inconvenient and uncomfortable when they are stiff.

Lastly, I blame us, because we bought it. Karl Marx called religion the opiate of the masses. Now, I would have to say, consumerism, commercialism is the drug, and the media is the needle that we use to shoot up.

They think we're stupid, and for the most part, we haven't done anything to cause them to reassess that. They dumb down what is happening in our world, because they think we're too stupid and childlike to handle the truth, like Jack Nicholson's character in "A Few Good Men". "Truth? You want the truth? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!" They're going to make damn sure that we stay that way too.

We can look around for the sources of news that are least biased, knowing that unbiased while an admirable goal, is impossible. We can look to a variety of different sources and maybe triangulate on the truth, but in the end, I think that its important to ealise that like goldfish, we are surrounded by a bowl.

The only way out, if there IS a way out, is to begin to examine and reassess, and where necessary, challenge many of the basic assumptions under which we live, and have the courage to live outside the lines. If there are enough of us, they they will have to listen to us, because we will have stopped listening to them.

Create our own reality, make our own choices, its not the simple, comfortable, easy way, but its freedom, and freedom never came easy. Certainly, going "Cold Turkey" never is, ask any junkie.


I Wouldn't Say I'm A News Junkie. I Do Like To Try... Dec 6th. at 7:16:33 pm EST

mik63033 (Ferguson, Missouri US) Age: 41 - Email

I wouldn't say I'm a news junkie. I do like to try to stay informed though. I try to catch several newscasts a night;local, national, not to mention the morning shows and the 'net. On second thought, better sign me up for News Anonymous.

At work, someone once asked me how I relax at night when I go home. I said first I fix myself a nice hot cup of raspberry tea with honey, then I turn on the news and see who the latest Anthrax victim is. These days you have to stay informed. That is of course if You're interested in staying alive. Call me kooky, but I've grown rather fond of the notion. There are so many things I need to do in this lifetime.

I don't have a fave per se. They all end up being pretty similar, sharing the same footage, having the same talking heads on as "experts". In my opinion, of the networks, Brokaw is the least annoying. Jennings is kind of loopy. I sometimes wonder if he ever completely recovered from election night. The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS has comprehensive coverage, and usually several speakers on an issue. Watch out for Richard Rodriguez though. He's a regular essayist on the program who once, in an awkward attempt to understand Taliban and their views on American society, was agreeing with them that Pagans are "Godless.." I catch the British newscasts on PBS as well. I think CNN is overrated and if what I heard is true, Reuters is ridiculous. It was reported that they'll stop referring to the terrorists as terrorists and start calling them highjackers plain and simple. That's the P.C. thing to do. hokayyy....I suppose they weren't twisted thugs after all. Maybe they just wanted a hug. The next time some fanatic with one or more major screws loose starts foaming at the mouth threatening to highjack something, I'll think twice about calling him a terrorist. He just might be an honest-to-goodness genuine freedomfighter. Like a misguided Gandhi.

As far as the news being biased well, I don't know how You can be human and not be. Now of course a professional newsperson is not supposed to SHOW their bias. Even if You don't voice your opinion though, it still comes out by the length of time allotted nightly, weekly, to a particular issue, or one side of an issue to be more exact. If you're a kneejerk liberal who alway assumes Big Bad America must be blamed automatically, you're going to have any number of halfwits on your program explaining the "reasons" for flying airplanes into cooks and office workers.

Our government does influence what we see on the news, as well it should during a war in which we have sleeper cells in our cities and confused Americans becoming Islamic extremists. It was reported yesterday when three of our men were killed by friendly fire the Marines wanted to ban reporters. Did the reporters stop and think that maybe, just maybe, after our B-52 dropped a bomb killing three Americans, five of the allied opposition, and injuring at least a dozen more people, things may have been a bit chaotic to be playing intrepid reporter? Perhaps they have their own protocol for informing loved ones before the ratings-chasing media turns it into a t.v. sideshow? The reaction is to jump to the conclusion they were trying to save face. Perhaps. I'm not too concerned with my "right to know" though. Accurate reporting numbers of casualties is notoriously difficult. The W.T.C. dead count is currently half of what is was believed to be three months ago.

Stimulating questions put to us. Thanks again for the opportunity to share an opinion. Would that news programs were more like You!

Blessed Be
Be Safe

Speaking For Myself, I Live In The Country And The Local Newspaper... Dec 6th. at 5:15:42 am EST

Grey Streambank (San Diego County, California US) Age: 23 - Email

Speaking for myself, I live in the country and the local newspaper has never adequately been able to find my house for delivery. Besides, who has time to read the paper every day, or even every Sunday?

That said, I do have a satellite dish, and during any times during which none of my daily or weekly habit programs are on (and I'm home and actually in control of the remote), it basically lives on one of four channels - CNN, Headline News, MSNBC, or the History Channel. When we first got our satellite dish, I was a freshman in high school, and it lived on CNN for the first month due to the Gulf War.

As far as news on politics, the economy, whatever, I think there's far too much of taking people's words and twisting them to other people's worldviews, using buzzwords that very few of us actually know the real meanings of, and so on. I recall reading a recent article about the Justice Department's use of material witness warrants in the Sunday edition of the San Diego Union newspaper (I drove to the grocery store, 6 miles away, to pick it up), which never once mentioned what a material witness warrant actually is. It's this kind of news reporting, and political speechgiving, that I think drives people away from using their right to vote; ultimately they don't know precisely what it is they're voting for or against.

I much more would prefer if the news agencies would simply report what happened and let us everyday citizens spin it inside our own head.

As far as favorite newspeople... recently I've taken a liking to Ashleigh Banfield. I cried when I heard Bernard Shaw was retiring; I remember my first month of having decent TV reception, and him always calling in on the phone from Baghdad. You'll notice I stay away from the hard-core political or economic reporters; I put my trust in the star field reporter or the anchorperson.

I, Too, Have Been Close Enough To The News To Know That... Dec 5th. at 7:05:52 pm EST

georgia (seattle, Washington US) Age: 55

I, too, have been close enough to the news to know that the reporters arent interested in the truth at all. And I'm old enough to remember when the news was information. Today the news is bought by corporations who want to promote a certain agenda, such as their own political view. You can see this when a channel changes hands and the news does an immediate about face. Today almost all of the news channels, especially the cable news is aimed as propaganda to get a certain party elected and to form opinion. Talk radio has the same slant. NPR has the nearest to objective that I have heard. And have you noticed that the national news evening shows are usually synchronized so that if a certain subject is objectionable to you you cannot change the channel, because they are reporting the same story on the other two. And more and more of the reporters are required to support the republican view. Notice how individual reporters have changed their slant after the networks changed hands or were bought out by a larger corporation. I have a lot of time on my hands!!! I have noticed that the broadcast channels have 12 to 15 hours per every 24 of news, news related, and news based programming on each. There is very little tv that is anything else.

I Prefer Independent Media- I Reccommend Schnews-, Indymedia- And Alternet... Dec 5th. at 1:50:38 pm EST

Jane Spacebat (Edinburgh, Scotland UK) Age: 20

I prefer independent media- I reccommend Schnews-, indymedia- and Alternet-

I definately feel that mainstream corporate newspapers and tv etc put their own spin on things, and are extremely biased. Also they often include enormous amounts of ephemera such as lives of 'celebrities'.

The Bbc Is Just Brilliant For News, They Have Always In My... Dec 5th. at 8:32:24 am EST

Michael (Dublin, Ireland) Age: 24 - Email

The BBC is just brilliant for news, they have always in my experience been very professional and impartial.
It is essential for me to catch up on news every day.

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