Why stuff is worse than it seems

If you follow objective news sources–and that takes a lot of looking–you’ll know more than most people about the issues you’re passionate about. But that would be a 24/7/365 job, and who can spare the time? So whenever I click on a website like Pen America or the National Parks and Conservation Association after a long absence, I always find that the issues these sites track are in worse condition than they seem. I blame Schrödinger for this because stuff getting worse is too scary for me to take 100% responsibility for its status.

Of course, if you don’t look at the websites or read the news, there aren’t any issues. Schrödinger and his cat taught us that. Most the people arguing about issues on Facebook and never checked out the websites, much less read/watched objective news. Experience teaches us that.

Truth be told, I think we can be passionate about a lot of issues, but need pragmatic restraint in choosing which ones to study in depth. I gravitate toward conservation groups and press freedom groups. This morning, I realized that I hadn’t been out to read anything on the Freedom of the Press Foundation site for a while. As the home page says, “Freedom of the Press Foundation protects, defends, and empowers public-interest journalism in the 21st century.”

I come from a family of journalists and followed in their footsteps. But even if I hadn’t, I would still support strong, neutral, and comprehensive journalism. Without it, we’ll have trouble maintaining our democracy because the only thing people would know would be the propaganda that comes from their political party of choice–and the “news” sites that support it blindly.

There’s been a lot in the news lately about the erosion of our freedoms of speech and press. Obviously, I’m aware of that. But when I looked at the foundation’s site, I discovered that stuff is worse than it seems.

  • Outrageous social media laws await Supreme Court
  • In its quest to censor war reporting, the Russian government has dismantled all semblance of press freedom
  • Newsworthy leaks under attack in LA
  • Congress has a historic chance to protect journalists and whistleblowers in this year’s defense authorization bill
  • Supreme Court ruling limits paths for journalists to hold federal officers accountable
  • The extradition of Julian Assange must be condemned by all who believe in press freedom
  • Exploiting tragedy: Police in Uvalde and Buffalo clamp down on free press
  • Why press protections need legislative teeth, in DOJ’s own words

We take our freedom of speech and press as a given. So I don’t think it occurs to us that powerful groups, state and local governments, and federal agencies and individuals are constantly nibbling away at them. Most of us are aware of a lot of this, but cannot always cite specific examples. I look at this list and hope that I can make time to check the website at least once a week.

If things are getting worse, we can only speak out if we’re aware of them and how/why they are getting worse.