This morning after Gracie and I had completed our early morning walk I brought up my home page to see whether the world outside our neighborhood had held together for yet another night. I was pleased that it had. As my coffee was brewing downstairs I briefly glanced over the stories that Yahoo News thought was worthy of inclusion.
As I looked over the items that were listed I saw one about two priests in Colombia who had been shot to death a little more than a year ago. Apparently, they had hired the hit men who killed them because one of the two priests discovered that he had AIDS.
The article was very brief and I could hear my coffee maker beeping that it had done its job and “x’d” out of the article to enjoy the java and give Gracie her morning chicken jerky treats.
As I sat in the backyard sipping my brew I started thinking about how I might craft this story into a post for this blog. I had a few ideas but in order to develop them I wanted to re-read the story and see if there were any others out there which had fleshed out more details about it.
My thinking was that I might write about the theological basis that the Roman Catholic church has on homosexuality – and how the psychology of having to teach their flock a doctrine that undermined themselves might have played into the decisions of these two priests to hire the hit men who killed them.
I pondered talking about how these two men had decided that suicide (even assisted-suicide) which is viewed as a mortal sin, was preferable to dealing with their homosexuality.
I considered discussing how homosexuality is so counter-cultural to the Latin and Hispanic community and the difficulties that the two Hispanic gay men I know experienced in being shunned and cut off from their families.
I wasn’t quite certain where I was going to take this but I wanted to pursue it.
I was surprised that in a half hour, the story had disappeared from the Yahoo News page. Despite my best efforts to retrieve it I couldn’t find a way to do that within Yahoo. So I went to Google and typed in “Gay Colombian Priests’ Deaths.” Google did the effective job that it normally does and brought up a page of listings which directed me to the material I was seeking.
What I found in looking at the three stories really shocked me more than the subject matter and changed my direction and thinking about what I would post. If you’ve ever played that picture puzzle game where two similar, but not identical images are placed side by side – and your job is to find the differences – you will understand my reason for surprise if you visit each of the three links below which covered this story
Did you notice as I did that under the guise of presenting “news” three separate sources reported the exact same story – including identical verbiage! Is this reporting? What would the people who wrote these stories have done if the Copy and Paste functions didn’t exist within our world of word processing?
Yes there are some cosmetic differences between the three articles – but these pale in comparison to the similarities – like our little puzzle game. And what should concern all of us is that if we rely on un-thinking writers and un-thinking sources for our news – what is it that we are really getting?
There is no doubt that today more than ever our thoughts and ideas are molded by the media. And when all of those media are saying the same thing it is only natural that if we don’t examine our sources critically we can easily be manipulated into believing that what we read or see is the truth.
One of the early magnates in the media business, William Randolph Hearst understood the power that his newspaper empire had when he said,
“You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”