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


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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.

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

6 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

7 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn