Reading the News, Then and Now

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. Every once in a while a chart like the one below pops up in my Facebook “news” feed.

It rates the bias of various news sources and is valuable because “news” reports are no longer required by law to be truthful.

I’m not a news junkie and never have been, but back when I was in high school our senior English teacher required us to subscribe to the New York Times for a short period of time. I don’t remember, fifty-seven years later, how much of it I read, but I do recall that my parents, both registered Democrats in our mostly Republican New York town, subscribed to Time, Newsweek, and U. S. News and World Report and had copies of both the Middletown Record and the New York Daily News delivered to the house. Those I did read, at least in part. In addition, we watched the evening news on television. I don’t recall which station we regularly watched, but I can remember listening to broadcasts by both Walter Cronkite and Huntley & Brinkley. It is with good reason that Cronkite was considered the most trusted man in America. Back then, news was actually news. Opinions were clearly labeled as such.

Fast forward to today. I confess I stopped reading print newspapers and magazines a long time ago, but we’ve always watched the local affiliate of NBC here in Maine for both local and national nightly news. If it was biased, I wasn’t consciously aware of it until the 2016 Presidential election.

That was about the same time I broke down and went on Facebook (under my pseudonym and for strictly, I thought, promotional purposes). It didn’t take me long to realize just how political social media was, or to get involved in reposting items that aligned with my own beliefs.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. Yes, dear reader, I do get most of my news from Facebook these days, but I like to think I’m both selective and savvy about the sources I accept. These days I look for well-considered and documented “reporters” on current issues. The standouts are Heather Cox Richardson’s daily summaries (with historical background) of events, mostly political. She’s a scholar, a college professor, and a Mainer. I trust her conclusions absolutely because she backs them up with both history and logic. Two other posts I regularly read are written by veteran newsman Dan Rather (“News and Guts) and by Steve Benen for “The Maddow Blog,” associated with Rachel Maddow’s in-depth reporting on NBC.

Are they biased? Of course they are. But they are far more reliable than, say, Fox News. I like to believe I think for myself, but no one can come to any conclusions if they don’t have facts.

Where is Walter Cronkite when we really need him?

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published others, including several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her most recent publications are The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries (a collection of three short stories and a novella, written as Kaitlyn) and I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries (written as Kathy). She maintains websites at and


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4 Responses to Reading the News, Then and Now

  1. Pingback: Reading the News, Then and Now – Trenton Farmings

  2. John Clark says:

    Remember when we took things with a grain of salt? I guess that translates into a dump truck of sodium chloride today. I still subscribe to three newspapers these days, in part to keep print journalism alive. I get the Bangor Daily News in physical form, the Waterville Sentinel and USA Today in electronic format. At my age and level of cynicism, I am able to spot a mackerel in the moonlight pretty quickly.

  3. itslorrieswp says:

    Oh, I miss those days when we watched Walter Cronkite. I get most of my news from MSNBC. I do have to be careful not to click on Fox or The Washington Examiner to avoid being frustrated by their lack of facts and inflammatory rhetoric.

  4. Julianne Spreng says:

    All the local papers we subscribe to are now either online only or delivered a day later by mail. No drivers for the delivery routes…sigh. The idiocy of Fox “News” makes me furious. That opinion and out right lies are permitted to be put forth as factual reporting is unconscionable. I’m sick and tired of dropping standards to the lowest common denominator. The days of Cronkite and H & B are long gone. We can now have alternate facts if you don’t like what you hear.

    Some thoughts: Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

    You can lead people to knowledge, but you can’t make them think.

    You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

    I want you to THINK not just BELIEVE.

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