What’s not said can have as much impact in news story


I was somewhat confused by the Whidbey News-Times’ July 22 Publisher’s Column. But I do not have a college degree in English so it is not a great task to confuse me with double talk. He uses phrases like “fake news” and “alternative facts.”

Who is releasing these “fakes news” and “alternative facts?” Was he trying to point a finger at the federal government or the local media? The ability to release “fake news” is not a skill reserved to anyone.

A member of Congress or local government wants to put the blame on the other party so he releases only a few “facts,” just enough to cover his own rear end, and pass the buck to others. Or is it the editor who does not print the “whole” story?

Most of us know from watching TV shows that a person in court takes an oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” That oath only applies to the court room. The media are not bound by those rules.

For a long time I have used the following to illustrate my point. Elections are coming up and I want to run for animal control officer. The reporter, or editor, wants a personal friend to fill that slot. One day I am walking my dog in the park. As usual I carry a poop scoop, plastic bag and paper towel, just in case my dog has to go. I meet the reporter and we have a few words about what a nice day it is, how the Mariners did in last night’s game and a couple other pleasantries. As I depart my dog decides he has to do his thing. Using my scoop, I pick up his deposits and place them in my plastic bag and deposit it into the park garbage can, as required.

The next edition of the paper there is an article about me walking my dog, meeting with the reporter for a few minutes and the actions of my dog as we depart.

He did not mention the clean up. In big print the story asks if this is the person you want for animal control officer. He did not say I left the dog’s deposit on the park grounds, but by ignoring what point it was implied I had.

I could not sue the reporter for a false story as the words he used were true, the words he did not use created “fake news.” The media, as well as officials, are well-qualified to misguide the public.

Words used by the media can be true, but the words they do not use can change the story.

Robert Brown

Oak Harbor

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