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Do Newscasters Not Get It? Is it "next" or "first"?

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According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the word "next" means "immediately succeeding" or "nearest to." I'm sure you have experienced what I'm about to hyperventilate about.

Just before a radio or TV commercial break, newscasters frequently will refer to a story of considerable interest -- sometimes a story perceived as being really news-breaking or juicy -- saying it will be "next" after the commercial break. But after several commercials, three or four other stories will be reported before the reporter zeros-in on the story we were told would be next. This is an obvious ploy to keep us tuned in -- to entice us from using our "clickers" to surf the stations and channels for one without commercials. With the obscene number of commercials we have today, this is understandable

This practice of deliberately misleading us not only aggravates me, but it also causes me to question the professionalism and creditability of the newscasters, radio/TV stations, and networks. If they are deceiving us about this, I wonder if the news is really as they say it is, or if their reporting has been distorted or fabricated. We know that can happen!

To confuse the matter, one TV network in particular has introduced a new procedure. The newscasters will go through the same routine of saying what is to be next, and then say, "But first" . . . and introduce another story. "First," according to Merriam Webster's, means "before another in time, space, or importance." So which has priority, "next" or "first"?

I wonder why the newscasters mislead us in this way. Do they think we listeners and viewers are so dumb we don't realize what they are doing? Are they so full of themselves they do not care what we think? Are corporations so focused on the bottom line that money is more important than integrity?

Or, on the other hand, could it be that the newscasters of today do not have what it takes to be real professionals in the field of journalism and broadcasting? Reporting takes a lot of hard work and dogged persistence to uncover the real truth of many stories, and it takes specialized education, training, and experience to be adequately prepared to do the job of creditable reporting, including what the words "next" and "first" mean.

So many times today's radio and TV reporters will introduce two people, each taking opposite sides of the issue being considered, and then we are subjected to the two people disagreeing and arguing with each other with such vigor that many times we are unable to hear what either of them is saying. And the elite Sunday-morning news or talk shows (whichever you want to call them) are no exception with their "panels" of experts.

This is not real reporting; this is simply an "easy way out" for newscasters who either are too lazy -- or who just don't know how -- to do an in-depth job of reporting. Instead of digging for the truth of a situation, which in some instances can take months or even years, they just have professional spokespersons from the left and the right duke it out. And when it's over, we have no idea what the truth of the situation really is.

This approach to what newscasters, local media stations, and networks call reporting merely keeps the pot stirred in today's very cantankerous and troublesome times. Real reporting involves finding out what the truth of an issue or situation actually is and then presenting the facts in an informative and unbiased manner. This is, for the most part, missing today!

Since the founding of this country, the American people have depended on the media for reporting what is really going on in the world. We cherish freedom of the press from government censure and control. And just as we expect our carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, doctors, lawyers, government workers, school teachers, and so forth, to take pride in what they do (to be well prepared and to give us their very best), we expect our newscasters to do the same.

This is especially important at this particular time in history. As the world seems to be shrinking, as people seem to be at such odds with one another, and as violence seems more and more to be in the mix, knowing the truth about what is going on at home and abroad is absolutely crucial for responsible citizens.

We expect the highest degree of integrity and trustworthiness from out newscasters. Perhaps they could start by putting next first.