Once Upon a Time…the news

In spite of the title, this is not a fairy tale. Though, it might fall into the horror genre if it were a work of fiction. It begins with the tragic death of eighteen young servicemen in 1958 and ends with a sad commentary on the condition of the world in which we live.

It was Thursday, March 27, 1958, when the lives of eighteen members of the United States armed forces came to a horrifying end on Texas farmland. Reports concerning the incident indicate it was an overcast day with low hanging clouds and limited visibility. One of the planes reportedly deviated from its assigned altitude and collided with the second plane.

I remember this tragedy for various reasons. Most important, to me at least, my dad was the first television station reporter to make it to the crash site. His film of the incident was the first to be broadcast locally, and some of the story was sold to ABC television and Movietone News. Dad was sort of famous for a minute or two.

My dad’s short-lived, local fame is not the important part of this story. The servicemen killed in the crash were important, especially to their families, but even they are not the important part of this story. The important part is what did not happen as a result of this incident.

Two military aircraft collided over a north Texas town with debris almost killing a local farmer while he was plowing a field. Eighteen young men in various branches of the service were killed, and the incident made the national, possibly world, news as Movietone was shown all over the world in those days. It was a big deal in some ways, but once the news footage had been seen, the story went away.

There were no congressional committees. There was no continuous coverage of grieving parents demanding answers from authorities. There were no tabloid stories of foreign plots, suicidal pilots, or conspiracy theories. There was simply a news report, with the facts of what happened. There was no ill-conceived late night comedy skit about the tragedy, and no op-ed pieces seeking to blame one political group or another for the event.

With that said, let me move to 2019. This tragedy, and resulting lack of hubbub at the time, all came back to me the other day during my treadmill time. As is my practice, I was watching several morning “news” programs while working out. During a commercial break, an ad I ignored in the past caught my attention. The actors in the ad were touting the fact this was a new form of news delivery and was news from all sides.

I have no idea why I flashed back to the 1958 airplane crash. For whatever reason I did, and it was, in my mind at least, a stark comparison to what passes for news today. Added to the idea, that an online news source is claiming to provide news from all sides, one should be able to see the problem the United States and the world face today.

As a tweet I noticed while researching this piece stated, “News has no sides.” Ideally, news should be the accurate reporting of what happened. That is no longer the case. I can only imagine what the coverage of the crash above might have sounded like if it had occurred today.

One reporter would comment that the racial and gender imbalance of the victims was likely due to unpopular policies established by a fascist command structure. Another might have noted the C124 was built by Douglas Aircraft Company, which had an ongoing dispute with its unions. Someone else would pick up that bit of information, and postulate the dispute might have led to sabotage or shoddy work.

Another might report the builder of the C119, Fairchild Aircraft, was possibly being investigated for supplying substandard electronics to repair facilities. Of course, someone would have pointed out the weather was sub-optimal and the planes were only being flown in such conditions to support the military-industrial complex which was orchestrating the unrest in certain parts of the world.

We live in a world today where journalism is simply another form of creative writing. Instead of reporting the facts of a matter, journalists now tell stories that may include factual data, but also include their analyses and unconfirmed information from third-party sources. Additionally, as we now know from the confession of more than one writer or source, some so-called news is almost completely fabricated.

© oneoldcop.com – 2019

About S. E. Jackson

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This entry was posted in Journalism, Politics, social media, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Once Upon a Time…the news

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