12 months ago

News Fatigue? How to think about abundance of 24-hr ‘news’


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

IS TOO MUCH NEWS A BAD THING?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you to a Pew Research Report today. Almost 7 in 10 Americans have “news fatigue.” Sixty-eight percent feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days compared with 3 in 10 who say they like the amount of news they get. Interestingly, Republicans feel more worn out by the news, more so than Democrats. What does this tell us about news and what does this tell us about the American culture?

DR. REEDER: Almost exactly a year ago, my sister went to be with the Lord. I used to talk to her every day. Well, I can promise you, in that statistic, she would be numbered with that 3 in 10. My sister could devour the news. She would not only have the news story; she would have the news story on the news story and the news story on the news story that’s on the news story.

She would come up with so much information that it would be overwhelming. She had immersed herself in it and was saturated with it and processing it and would get upset with her siblings if we had not spent the same amount of time on it.

TOM LAMPRECHT: And she’s one of the reasons we do this program.

DR. REEDER: That’s exactly where I was heading is that, in the providence of God, when I pastored in Charlotte, our church had a radio station that had been given to us by CBN and Pat Robertson. The genesis of this program actually began with that when we started the station that said, “We report the news; we don’t make the news,” and then we would separate news reporting and editorializing on that station. And she was our executive director and just did a marvelous job. And, thus, eventually, came the birth of “Today in Perspective.”

WHEN NEWS WAS ONLY A HALF HOUR

And she went out, literally, and helped raise money to get this started, Tom. What we might see as the incidental cause of this fatigue, we have this proliferation of cable stations. When you have a 24-hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year station that’s devoted to news, you’re not only going to be providing a constant flow of news into the culture, but you’re going to be, as it were, making news instead of, at the end of a day — this is the way it used to be — you would come home, greet your family, have your supper and then you would sit down for a 30-minute program on news.

Then they expanded it to one hour. Okay, we can live with that. Then, all of a sudden, got added this thing called “Nightline,” which was an expansion of news and began to provide investigative work. Now investigative journalism became a vital part of the news industry instead of the reporter giving “just the facts.”

MORE NEWS MAKES IT HARD TO COMPARTMENTALIZE

All of that has contributed now to the multiplication of news and the multiplication of news media so that you can get news on a radio, on a television on your computer, as many people who listen to this program do so by virtue of the app.

I wish I could tell you we could have a cultural rebirth of the old era of providing news with the reasonable commitment of some portion of your day — 30 minutes or an hour — through trusted journalists who have worked through the stories and, “Here they are and I’m doing my best to give you some objective reporting,” and then, at the end of the program comes an editorial analysis.

I wish we could get back to that, but I have no real hope so you, as a listener, if you don’t want to be fatigued by the news phenomena in our culture, you are going to have to create your own environment and that’s exactly what I would encourage you to do. Find two or three trusted sources for news and then find programs like this one that will look at the news and events from a confessed, understood and unhidden commitment to looking at it through a particular prism and world and life view. I have two places that, basically, I go for news and I have two places I go to to be challenged and instructed in terms of looking at news and events from a world and life view.

WHEN DID WHAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THE NEWS BECOME THE STORY?

TOM LAMPRECHT: A few years ago, when there was one celebrity who was accused of some immorality, the news came on and they gave a poll that a certain percentage thought this individual was guilty and a certain percentage thought he was innocent. I thought to myself, “What does that have to do with the news story?”

DR. REEDER: Well, I think what that has to do with the news story is the fact that the journalist no longer wanted to report the news, but the journalist wanted to be a commentator on the news and refused to separate the reporting of the news from the commentary on the news or the editorializing of the news.

And, by the way, that surfaces something else, what we might call “poll fatigue.” Polling is, in a sense, a recent phenomenon — it’s less than a century old. It was in the presidential campaigns of 1938 that it first made its appearance in the initial run of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Now, when we get a report from the news, we immediately get a poll survey. Nobody is going to run for any office of any distinction without having on their staff someone who does polling. No company does anything without polling. I actually think that is contributing to the news fatigue because polling is a backdoor way of making a commentary on the news and undermining any sense of objective reporting because, once you introduce the poll, you then begin to interpret the news through the subjectivity of the pollster, the poll and the one reporting the poll and now we don’t have a news story any longer for me to process, but we have something that’s already been digested and processed and given to me in the guise of reporting the news.

THE POLLS ARE NOW INEFFECTIVE AND ESSENTIALLY BACKWARDS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, haven’t we gotten polling backwards? We used to hear what a politician would believe and embrace, we’d find a poll that a certain percentage would agree or disagree with that politician. Now the politician listens to the polls and then he espouses what he believes.

DR. REEDER: Which ought to be a part of that second category of editorializing, you then go to people who tell you when that’s happening. You remember the famed devolution of the Clintons and President Obama: “Here, I’m for traditional marriage when I was running for this office. When I wasn’t running for the office, I was not for traditional marriage. And then, when I ran for president, I was for traditional marriage and now that I’m president, “my position has evolved,’” which I believe actually should be devolved into the abyss of pagan ethics.

Now, that would be the time for an editorialist to bring all of that out and then you editorialize. Now we have to ask ourselves a question: our politicians, do they have any hope of being a statesman and that means someone who has a center and an anchor of a core of beliefs and the character to affirm that, while always being teachable will hold consistently to those ethical absolutes, will that be a part of their life or not?

Politicians, instead of, “Here’s my position and what do the polls say about how people view my position?” to now the politicians hire the pollster to find out what position they ought to take on something. What we desperately need are men and women of character who have convictions in life and who are aware of the news of the day but, instead of finding the trajectory to profit from it, they become part of sending the trajectory so that the culture can profit from stability, integrity, and then ethical framework that is rooted, I believe, rightly in a Christian world and life view.

THE GOAL OF THIS PROGRAM

And that’s what we are attempting to do — we claim no perfection on “Today in Perspective” but that is our consistent commitment, Tom. And stories like this bear out the fact that what we’re doing is needed but we need to keep doing it the way we’re doing it. “Here’s what the news story said. Now here is our analysis from a Christian world and life view.”

We must not try to pass our analysis off as news, nor attempt to be newsmakers but, having had the news reported, here is a presentation of a Christian world and life view of that event, what you can learn from it, how you can respond to it and then the appeal to people that a Christian world and life view becomes a glorious journey of growth in the grace of God that begins with a commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior so that you love the Lord now with all of your heart, your soul and your mind.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

12 hours ago

Are you afraid to answer the phone?

Millions of Americans fear answering their phone due to a plague of billions of robocalls. These calls have made a mockery of the national Do Not Call Registry and touch on several public policy questions.

We had seemingly ended the problem of unwanted telemarketing calls. Congress authorized the Do Not Call Registry in 2003 after more than a decade of calls disrupting the peace and quiet of our homes. Fines of $11,000 per violation largely put telemarketing companies, with hundreds of thousands of employees, out of business.

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Why have unwanted calls returned? VOIP technology (voice over internet protocol) allowed anyone with a computer and an internet connection to make thousands of calls. A handful of responses can make thousands of calls worthwhile when the cost is almost zero. Furthermore, technology makes robocallers mobile and elusive.

By contrast, telemarketing firms employed hundreds of people at call centers. The authorities could find and fine telemarketers. Firms had to comply with the Do Not Call registry, even if forced out of business.

Technology further frustrates the control of robocalls. Spoofing makes a call appear to be from a different number. Spoofing a local number increases the chance of someone answering, defeats caller ID, and makes identifying the calls’ source difficult.

By contrast, technology allowed the elimination of spam email. It’s easy to forget that fifteen years ago spam threatened the viability of email. Email providers connected accounts to IP addresses and eventually identified and blocked spammers. Google estimates that spam is less than 0.1 percent of Gmail users’ emails.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) banned almost all robocalls in 2009 (political campaigns and schools were excepted). Yet the volume of calls and complaints from the public rise every year. And the “quality” of the solicitations is lower: legitimate businesses employed telemarketers, while most robocalls seem to be scams.

Telephone companies and entrepreneurs are deploying apps and services to block robocalls. The robocallers then respond, producing a technological arms race. The technology of this arms race, however, is beyond me.

I’d rather consider some issues robocalls raise. The root of the problem is some people’s willingness to swindle others. Although we all know there are some bad people in the world, free market economists typically emphasize the costs and consequences of government regulations over the cheats and frauds who create the public’s demand for regulation. People can disagree whether a level of fraud warrants regulation, but free marketers should not dismiss the fear of swindlers.

Robocalls also highlight the enormous inefficiency of theft. Thieves typically get 25 cents on the dollar (or less) when selling stolen goods. Getting $1,000 via theft requires stealing goods worth $4,000 or more. In addition, thieves invest time and effort planning and carrying out crimes, while we invest millions in locks, safes, burglar alarms, and police departments to protect our property. America would be much richer if we did not have to protect against thieves or robocallers.

Finally, having the government declare something illegal does not necessarily solve a problem. Our politicians like to pass a law or regulation and announce, “problem solved.” Identifying and punishing robocallers is difficult; the FTC had only brought 33 cases in nearly ten years. And less than ten percent of the over $300 million in fines and relief for consumers levied against robocallers had been collected. Government has no pixie dust which magically solves hard problems.

The difficulty of enforcing a law or regulation does not necessarily imply we should not act. The Federal Communications Commission, for instance, recently approved letting phone companies block unwanted calls by default, and perhaps this will prove effective. We should weigh the costs of laws and regulations against a realistic projection of benefits and laws failing to solve problems as promised should be revised or repealed.
Still, a law that accomplishes little can have value. Cursing robocalls accomplishes little yet can be cathartic. A law that costs little might provide us satisfaction until technology solves the problem.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

13 hours ago

VIDEO: Culverhouse vs. UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Why did the media get the story with Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. and Alabama so wrong?

— Is the Iowa slap-fight between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden a 2020 preview?

— Now that former ALEA head Spencer Collier has settled his case with the state over his firing, is the sordid Bentley saga over?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) to discuss medical marijuana, the prison special session and the lottery.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” that calls out Joe Biden for lying about the lack of lies and scandals in the Obama administration.

VIDEO: Culverhouse/UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Sunday, June 16, 2019

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

14 hours ago

Alabama team targets international connections at SelectUSA Investment Summit

Alabama is home to a diverse lineup of international companies, and the state’s business recruiters are looking to expand those ranks.

The economic development team is in Washington D.C. at the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which starts today and is the premier foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

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FDI is a significant part of Alabama’s economy. Last year alone, it came from 16 different countries, for a total of $4.2 billion in investment and 7,520 new and future jobs.

Since 2013, the state has attracted $12.8 billion in FDI, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. It’s spread across a variety of sectors, including automotive, aerospace and bioscience.

“Team Alabama is looking to capitalize on a record-breaking year for FDI in the state, by continuing to build partnerships with world-class international companies looking to grow in the U.S.,” said Vince Perez, a project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

SHOWCASING ALABAMA

SelectUSA is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and its annual summit regularly attracts top industry leaders and investors from around the globe. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 2,800 attendees from more than 70 international markets and 49 U.S. states and territories.

Participants of the past five summits have announced $103.6 billion in greenfield FDI in the U.S. within five years of attending, supporting more than 167,000 U.S. jobs.

“We are excited to have another opportunity to showcase Alabama’s vibrant business climate that’s been cultivated over the years through business-friendly policies,” Perez said.

“This year’s Investment Summit is very timely as we will be armed with the recently passed Incentives Modernization Act, which upgraded our already-strong incentive tool kit, making us more marketable than ever.”

The measure targets counties that have had slower economic growth. In particular, it expands the number of rural counties that qualify for investment and tax credit incentives. It also enhances incentives for technology companies.

Joining the Commerce Department at the SelectUSA Summit are PowerSouth, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Alabama Power Co., and Spire.

Speakers at the summit will include key government and industry leaders who will discuss opportunities in a broad range of areas and industries, such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture and technology.

FDI supports nearly 14 million American jobs, and it is responsible for $370 billion in U.S. goods exports. The U.S. has more FDI than any other country, topping $4 trillion.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

A ‘Story Worth Sharing’: Yellowhammer News and Serquest partner to award monthly grants to Alabama nonprofits

Christmas is the season of giving, helping others and finding magic moments among seemingly ordinary (and occasionally dreary) days. What better way to welcome this season than to share what Alabamians are doing to help others?

Yellowhammer News and Serquest are partnering to bring you, “A Story Worth Sharing,” a monthly award given to an Alabama based nonprofit actively making an impact through their mission. Each month, the winning organization will receive a $1,000 grant from Serquest and promotion across the Yellowhammer Multimedia platforms.

Yellowhammer and Serquest are looking for nonprofits that go above and beyond to change lives and make a difference in their communities.

Already have a nonprofit in mind to nominate? Great!

Get started here with contest guidelines and a link to submit your nomination:

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Nominations are now open and applicants only need to be nominated once. All non-winning nominations will automatically be eligible for selection in subsequent months. Monthly winners will be announced via a feature story that will be shared and promoted on Yellowhammer’s website, email and social media platforms.

Submit your nomination here.

Our organizations look forward to sharing these heartwarming and positive stories with you over the next few months as we highlight the good works of nonprofits throughout our state.

Serquest is an Alabama based software company founded by Hammond Cobb, IV of Montgomery. The organization sees itself as, “Digital road and bridge builders in the nonprofit sector to help people get where they want to go faster, life’s purpose can’t wait.”

Learn more about Serquest here.

16 hours ago

Alabama Power wins Electric Edison Institute awards for power restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) awarded Alabama Power with the EEI “Emergency Assistance Award” and the  “Emergency Recovery Award” for its outstanding power restoration efforts after Hurricane Michael hit Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in October 2018.
The Emergency Assistance Award and Emergency Recovery Award are given to EEI member companies to recognize their efforts to assist other electric companies’ power restoration efforts, and for their own extraordinary efforts to restore power to customers after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions or other natural events. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process.

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Alabama Power received the awards during the EEI 2019 annual conference.

Alabama Power’s extraordinary efforts were instrumental to restoring service for customers across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida quickly and safely,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “We are pleased to recognize the dedicated crews from Alabama Power for their work to restore service in hazardous conditions and to assist neighboring electric companies in their times of need.”

Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm to make landfall during the 2018 hurricane season, was a Category 5 hurricane with peak winds of 160 mph. The storm hit Mexico Beach, Fla., on October 10 before being downgraded to a tropical storm and traveling northeast through Georgia and several Mid-Atlantic states. Alabama Power sent more than 1,400 lineworkers and 700 trucks to help restore service to customers over the course of two and a half months.

Hurricane Michael also resulted in 89,438 service outages in Alabama Power’s territory. Due to their tireless work, Alabama Power’s crews restored power to 100 percent of customers within four days after the storm, dedicating more than 124-thousand hours to the recovery.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)