In my last column I addressed the issue of whether some readers, unfortunately a surprising amount, really want factual based news anymore?
Many seem to want headlines and the body of newspaper articles to only contain information that aligns with their political beliefs, anything less is immediately tagged “fake news”. Unfortunately more times than not, a newspaper publication will then be blasted in social media comments made public for billions of potential eyes worldwide to view, as either being left / right leaning (or fake) when news does not align with one’s liking.
I call this mindset “camp news”. Liberals want a Rachel Maddow perspective; Conservatives want a Sean Hannity angle. The problem? Those shows are opinion pieces. Their news content comes from such an opinionated perspective, in my opinion (guess we all get to have one), anyone truly wanting fact based unbiased news should avoid them.
Separating facts from opinions that are mingled together is nearly impossible with such news outlets – shows – columns. If you want a left or right leaning opinion piece you can Amen along the way, then they are great options.
POLITICIANS OPENED THE DOOR
Politicians from both parties, at least since I started watching politics closely since the 90’s, will indicate the news is fake if they do not like what is being reported (its an encouragement to tune into “camp news” only or else its “fake news”). Sometimes these politicians have a point, however more times than not, reporters are bringing to light a subject matter the elected official simply does not like.
Note to politicians, its not “fake news” just because you do not want to answer the tough questions being asked.
I have seen Speaker Nancy Pelosi become extremely upset when she actually received tough questions from reporters doing their job. In December 2019 she was asked “if she hated the President” at the conclusion of a news conference where she tore into the President the entire duration of the news conference after the impeachment process (prior to also tearing up the President’s State Of The Union speech). The Speaker stated to the reporter “Don’t mess with me” before coming back to the microphone to state her points on why she dislikes President Trump’s personality and political stances some more.
“Don’t mess with me” as a response to a legit question Speaker of the House? Really? A reporter might print something you do not like?
Former Vice President Joe Biden, at what should have been a very friendly UAW event earlier in the year in Michigan, was questioned by an auto worker (not even a reporter) about a gun rights matter. The question clearly upset Biden who started yelling at the man and telling him, “You’re full of s***” and “I don’t work for you”.
Mr. Biden you are leading the polls right now, if elected President you will work for all of us.
Biden then in May took questions from African American radio host Lenard McKelvey, known as “Charlamagne tha God” that appeared to rattle him. Eventually the former Vice President stated “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black” which upset many in the African American community.
There is one politician that who has taken the term “fake news” to a whole new level. Without mentioning a name, I am sure President Trump has come to the forefront of your mind (whether you support him or not).
I have personally covered numerous Trump rallies in Ohio and Indiana from press row, while watching just about every gathering conducted on television. He is quick to stir up the crowd and turn them on the media. This isn’t a tough feat to accomplish since the President has a point, he receives an extremely high percentage of negative only news from the generally left leaning media and his followers clearly have a high dislike for this. The President is a pro at stirring a crowd up in such fashion, one of his political strengths that many in politics wish they could possess.
However, the media does have a job to do and tough questions to ask.
One burning question that I have, is at last week’s rally held right here within The Village Reporter coverage area (Swanton / Toledo Airport) the President blasted recent polls, including a poll by right leaning Fox News, showing him trailing in the Buckeye State to Joe Biden. The President was quick to point out the crowd size and enthusiasm at his rallies to drive his point home that the poll information published by right leaning Fox News was “fake”.
My question to the President and his campaign team, is if these polls are fake then why are you raising money in your Ohio email campaigns, using these very same poll numbers?
I don’t hate you Mr. President for having tough questions. I would ask this question of my mother if she were running for office. I’m not from the “fake news” crowd. It is a legit question.
If you do not believe the polls then why does your team use them to raise money? Why does your team acknowledge you are trailing, then turn on the media and the polls in the next breath saying they are fake when the cameras are on? Did this have anything to do with the multi million dollar ad campaign that was stopped in the State of Ohio?
I think these are legit, tough, questions.
WE ARE ATTACKED ON SOCIAL MEDIA BECAUSE OF POLL NUMBERS
I’ve always watched polls very closely. Historically they are correct a very high percentage of the time. This point simply cannot be argued. You can go back into time easily, look at poll numbers going into an election and compare poll numbers to the final results.
In the opening of our daily online posts at www.thevillagereporter.com which shares the most recent daily poll data, there is a brief into.
That intro gives a history on the high percentage of the time polls are correct, including in 2018 nearly perfectly predicting the House and Senate races.
The opening also addresses the general 101 anti poll response of how many Americans will speak against poll information and will claim polls are “fake news” and that they have never personally been polled themselves.
Note – I have still not seen anyone post on our daily poll articles they do not like or believe them when their candidate is in the lead, usually we get a “thumbs up” in that instance. I am also always surprised by how many people say they do not read or believe polls but comment on them.
Finally, the intro points to the 2016 Presidential election surprise win by President Trump over Hillary Clinton. The intro states how Hillary Clinton was picked to win the popular vote by 2% in 2016 and she actually won it the popular vote by 2.1%. The 2016 polls were wrong in determining key battle ground states, not in overall numbers.
The daily articles we publish also point out that these key battle ground states will likely determine the 2020 Presidential Election which is why overall General Election numbers are shared by our newspaper but more importantly state by state poll numbers as well.
The response on our social media Facebook page for the world to see, despite laying out this information …
-Sandy Wehrle – I thought it was village biased reporter
-Doug Gurtzweiler – village reporter is in the same category as the enqiuire you see at the check stands
-Doug Gurtzweiler – another fake news report..come on
-WIlliam Rittenbery – Total Bull ****!
-Julie Billings – Ya ok i dont believe it
-Brad Christensen – Bull sh*t
-Peggy Garrett – Here we go again with the polls.
-Tony Moor – Fake news.
-Andrea Rupp Vilaychith – 98% chance like Hillary did.
-Hayley Brandt – Who they asking ?? Wasn’t me
-M.T. Thompson – Well of course biden is leading,,it was right under the headline about the world really is flat!
-Dave Taylor – No one that I know has ever been polled.
-Bob Zaleski – I’m a registered voter and nobody asked me so the polls are wrong
-Shane Hancock – What Poll? I’m really curious as to what Poll had Trump losing Ohio right now? We will just have to see in November! Trump 2020!!!
-Kathie Eager – the article tells you who conducted the various polls (or is that too hard for a republican)
-Jessica Shaffer – Kathie Eager who said he is a Republican i mean i get it is most likely but you know about assumptions!?!? Shane Hancock, On the 24th Quinnipiac polled with an error rate of -/+ 3.0 percent. Method of poll was likely voter cell & landline poll calls……..who the hell answers those unknown calls?!? I’d like to be the ass now and make my own assumption!!!!!
-Shane Hancock – LoL wow yeah I guess I didn’t read the article my bad.
-Sherry Stewart Jaggers – They lean LEFT!
-Mark Hessel Sherry Stewart Jaggers – The whole country leans left.
-Sherry Stewart Jaggers – Mark Hessel in your dreams! Most of us love our country!
-Matt Mickelson – Shane Hancock I couldn’t agree more! I never took a poll lol
-Bill DeLong – Polls are used to manipulate, not report. Most people don’t care about polling, and have already made his/her decision.
-James Strickler – Polls have been broken for quite so-metime.
-Cole Heath – James Strickler how does anyone believe polls anymore after Hillary was suppose to win in a landslide back in 2016 from polls?
-Sherry Stewart Jaggers – Cole Heath They lean LEFT.
-Teresa Soles – More fake news shocker
-Brenden Kost – What about this article is fake?
-Sherry Stewart Jaggers – Teresa Soles They lean LEFT!!
-Brian Michael – I don’t believe the polls
-Bobie A. Williams – Hilarious! Propaganda!
-Sarah Landry VerMeulen – I’d like to know who they pulled, wasn’t me in rural Ohio!!
-Aaron Babcock – I can’t stop laughing! There are people that actually believe this bs!
-Ryan Ripke Aaron Babcock – I can’t believe this senile old man could get even 10% of the vote.
-Earl Winegarner III – Ryan Ripke I disagree with this headline. I drove from Archbold to Findlay today and it’s not even close on yard signs and flags. I also noticed that every one that has a Trump sign or flag also has a US flag. What does that tell you
-Ryan Ripke Earl Winegarner III – I wonder how many people from Fulton County were included in that poll.
-Lisa Bennett – I don’t believe that for a second.
-Joshua Apt – How on God’s green earth is Biden leading in Ohio polls lol
-Doug Gurtzweiler – Drinking the koolaid
-Andrea Bly – JoHantgen I have never been polled !
-Connie Grieser – If polls are shut down and we have to go to mail-in, then I’ll believe that
-Dottie Heckman – That is so false!!!
-Tony Denstedt – No one asked me..
-Scott Gallutia – Wait wasnt Hillary leading in the polls …hmmm interesting
-Cheryl Ann – Considering Hillary was leading 85% and Trump 15% Nov 2016, we know these polls are useless. All through Williams County there are more Trump signs. They’re everywhere. Hell , there are more garage sale signs than Biden signs
-Christina Neuenschwander – Again! Fake *** news! Damn people stop it!!
-Kevin Miller – Let’s see the turnout from a Biden rally compared to s Trump rally.
-Jeffrey Bernath – Kevin Miller can’t. They have Biden hiding in his basement again after a week of saying insane things. And Old Man River needs all the rest he can get prior to the first debate since it will start 4 hours past his nap time.
-Kevin Miller – Sarah Keesbury Biden couldn’t get enough people to show up for social distancing to be a problem.
-Lisa Leininger – Kevin Miller doesn’t matter who shows up at the rallies. It matters who shows up at the polls
-Kevin Miller – Lisa Leininger Actually neither the rally nor the poll matters, only the vote.
-Chuck Sterrett – FAKE NEWS
I OFTEN QUESTION POLLS
I have often questioned polls and had a few of the concerns listed above personally.
I also do not know anyone polled.
When driving around our coverage areas of Williams and Fulton Counties in Northwest Ohio I would say there is a 10 to 1 Trump to Biden ratio on yard signs.
I also know that those polled are a small percentage of the overall population.
Then there is the question of how does enthusiasm play?
Trump supporters are generally very vocal, excited and upbeat about their candidate. On the contrast, we published an article within the last week on how some Democrats themselves are even concerned by Biden’s “chill approach” and how much time he spent campaigning from his basement when Trump was speaking around the country publicly. The article addressed Biden not being a charismatic candidate like President Obama was when running for his first term, a mistake many feel led to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. I share in these observations.
I also question when one poll from a left leaning news outlet may show Biden leading the President by 10% in Wisconsin, yet the next poll from a right leaning news outlet shows Biden with a 4% lead. That is a pretty big difference, this is why we especially pay attention to Real Clear Politics that takes the average of all poll numbers combined.
However, I also believe in data and history. Even if Trump would carry 90% of the vote in our coverage area, that is a very small drop in the bucket when compared to the State of Ohio as a whole as our area has a small population. I do trust polls more than counting yard signs.
Again, polls are historically correct a very high percentage of the time. Time will tell if they are correct this election cycle.
ATTACKS ON OUR NEWSPAPER AND ME PERSONALLY
I publish unbiased news, period. Is that clear enough?
I do not review news on whether it leans towards the left’s angle or the right’s angle or most importantly whether it does or does not line up with my personal beliefs, which is how almost all news outlets operated these days (their pockets are funded to do so).
It is not my job or desire to change your political beliefs to align with mine by what we publish. Having published news for two decades I’m fairly certain I understand the diversity of our readership, especially here in Northwest Ohio.
Personally I’m an Independent Conservative; strange how I’m attacked by other “Conservatives”.
Have you ever had a newspaper publisher state their political opinions publicly? I have no issue with doing so as I have nothing to hide. My personal political beliefs have nothing to do with the news we publish.
What I do nearly all day, every day, is look for whether potential news stories are factual data, typically word for word quotes, hard core numbers, etc. At the end of the day, I publish A LOT of news that I do not personally care for but it is factual data and I will not jump into the “it must be fake because I don’t like it” crowd, behavior both sides of the political aisle display.
Example – most media outlets ran hard with the story accusing the President of mocking dead soldiers recently. We did little with the piece as it came from an “anonymous unnamed source”. I think that is garbage reporting, show me a video or audio clip or at least have someone go on record publicly with the accusation. I personally was sickened how long CNN and MSNBC ran with this piece, I honestly do not even think it would have been news 20 years ago.
When I see all that I find wrong with journalism as a whole in this country, I try my hardest to ensure we go against the grain and publish facts without an agenda (our pockets are not funded by any political affiliation).
I believe this is why we are followed so heavily on social media (approaching 25,000 between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), we have no agenda and publish news as straight forward as we possibly can.
And, not that it matters, our staff is a mixed bag politically, as I said in my prior column I have no idea who would win an election just within our own organization. Maybe I’ll take a poll?!?
If you do not believe my words, go ahead and talk to local elected officials on whether they believe we are unbiased in our efforts in publishing straight forth news compared by other news outlets locally / regionally.
I find it pretty disappointing to have our newspaper attacked on social media because people do not like a headline, especially when it appears many do not even read the article before throwing mud our way or worse (I won’t go into details – borderline threats).
I find it interesting that many of these attacks are from people who clearly lean to the right, yet when there are headlines showing Trump ahead in polls in states like Texas or the massive lines at a rally in Swanton (we published a video courtesy of The White House that works with us), the same people do not comment – all complaints, no praise in our mostly free coverage efforts brought forth by our hard working team.
If you think news will ever line up to your liking 100% you better never read, watch or listen to news (or history books) – real news will do just that, challenge you.
I have been called everything under the sun in recent months, even a baby killer by one Pro Trump Conservative (has Jesus posts all over their Facebook wall) because they did not like poll numbers that were conducted by Fox News and shared by our publication!
As you can probably tell by this column, I’ve had my fill and then some with this behavior.
You have to have broad shoulders in this line of work so you just put your head down and charge forward.
When pointing out much of what I have written above in a recent Facebook post there were many interesting responses …
John Hanely – Politics has always been a cesspool but the digital age has allowed it to accelerate into society. I do wonder how society will continue to function if we all allow this to fester.
Lorie Nichols – Forrest, I think what you said is exactly how it is. I was attending a certain meeting where I seen this hatred from the right conservatives too. I voiced my opinion when it was asked for while some nodded in agreement others did not, but all we can do is keep on speaking Christ! There was also a Trump rally in our town I did not attend b/c I know these things are geared to get things riled up. So there was a little of that while Christian music was playing in the background some conservatives was arguing with some lefts. I was like good job Christians you looked horrible.
Jeff Rupp – I haven’t watched any news on tv in about a month, very selective in what I look at online. I just can’t stand what “politics” has become, I used to really get into it. I’m sorry you have to deal with all that because of your business.
Kay Shatzer Kerr – I have seen this also. I can’t believe how people have attacked you for reporting the news…which is not just one sided. Factual news is not going to make everyone happy. If they want you to just report their side and their beliefs, it’s no longer “the news.” It is propaganda. I really have seen too many Christians acting more like the devil lately with their hate. I am also a Christian, so am calling out my own people on this.
Lynne Carroll Grandey – You are truly the only unbiased news source I follow….the rest I do NOT consider news or true journalism any more-keep doing what you know is right!
Barb Love – This fits right in with the S.S lesson I am teaching tomorrow from Romans 14. Our Pastor Sean Ingram at First Baptist in Stryker has also been emphasizing that we are to be kind and gracious even when we disagree.
Connie Grieser – There are extremes on both sides of the aisle (conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats). I personally am planning on tuning out the rhetoric and joining other Christians in prayer and fasting leading up to the Election. It is obvious that our Land is in desperate need of healing and that’s only gonna happen when we humble ourselves and get on our knees.
Justin L Prince – Keep on doing the right thing. Spot the money IMO.
Susan Carey – Holbrook Very sad that this is happening to you or anyone!!! This does not reflect the God I serve!!
Kirsten Kurtz – It’s on both sides, but I can understand what you’re saying. we had a girl in our local community group start a bunch of crap because she was stealing signs out of people’s yards that didn’t fit her political views. Whatever happened to “you have your views & I have mine… but I will be an adult and show respect”?
I appreciate those kind words, as we plow forward with our news coverage in the midst of what I believe may be the worst display of behavior in any political election (at least in my lifetime).
No matter if you are far on the left, the right, or like most of America somewhere in the middle, may we all remember that we will need to continue to live next to each other in our small Northwest Ohio Communities once this election season is over.
Let’s put the pitch forks away. As you can tell by the timing of the Trump tax releases conveniently released by the New York Times, we have a long road ahead of us of debates and mark my word here and now, fireworks in the next five weeks.
Forrest R. Church may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org