Last Thursday, the President came to Minneapolis for a rally with his supporters at the Target Center. Thousands of those supporters descended upon the downtown area in MAGA hats, red-white-and-blue apparel, hopeful that their point of view would rule the day.
Meanwhile, thousands more gathered in the streets around the Target Center, signs in hand, chants on lips, to protest what is widely seen as a corrupt, inept administration led by a man many of us consider unfit. Yes, us – I was there in the middle of the throng of protestors, most of us peaceful.
Later, while watching a clip from WCCO Channel 4 News, my husband (who chose to go to the protest even though it was on his birthday) and I realized the news station reported incorrectly on what happened out there in the streets. I can’t speak for what happened inside the Target Center, but I sure as hell can speak to what happened outside and am terribly disappointed that our hometown news station focused on fear and incomplete information to characterize our raised voices. Peaceful protestors, which were the majority, were not shown in that news report.
As a former journalism student, I understand that reporting is supposed to be fair and unbiased. As a human being, I also understand that such reporting can, at times, be difficult especially if the reporter has strong personal beliefs about a given topic. As an American citizen, I understand that feelings are strong all the way around about the current administration and the remedy for what is going wrong right now.
All this does not make me any less angry at inept reporting or inept administrations.
What it does do is remind me, as perhaps it will remind others, that using facts to tell a story is so, so, so important if we are to govern, effect change, heal wounds. Drawing conclusions from incomplete information or from emotional accounts that are not accurate only deepens divides and makes people on both sides dig in their heels with an I told you so sort of attitude. Some protestors were waiting for the President’s supporters to make a mistake and some supporters were waiting for protestors to do the same. I am not going to make a sweeping generalization by saying all here for either side.
What I am going to say is that we must not only be accurate in our stories and reporting. We must also remember that human beings all want the same things, no matter what belief system they follow: happiness and security. It comes down to those basic things for conservatives, liberals, religious, nonreligious, men, women, non-binaries, citizens, immigrants, climate-change deniers and climate-change believers. All of us.
Every single one.
We can absolutely do better.