If the content of your story is that someone reacted, or is reacting to, something else, I am going to need you to cite the specifics of said reaction. Simply stating that someone is reacting to something, and then giving me your view on the original things that everyone is upset about, is not only bad reporting, but it is propaganda. Biased PR (redundant, I know) and in my unscientific experience it mostly happens with the intent to mislead the reader.
For instance, I have seen Facebook friends repost links to headlines reading “Someone Does Something, Liberals are Furious!” Or perhaps “Liberal Does Something Awesome, Republicans are Furious!” I of course click on the bait and read all about what the someone did or what was awesome in the Liberal’s actions, but the specifics in the fury is often a bit fuzzy. Now bait is bait, but I find this specific worm extra annoying; probably because I see it so often.
Now there are of course plenty of occasions, or subjects, or events, where there is some serious and tangible uproar. There are in fact protesters protesting, as in holding signs and blocking traffic, in reaction to Trump’s election. That is actual uproar. But then there is that other stuff…
“New Evidence Shows Bush Did Something Good, Liberals Dismayed.” “Black Person Cast in Movie, White People Upset.” “Police Officer Rescues Baby, Black Lives Matter Explodes!”
Now maybe I am a bit extra leery about such claims in large part because of my own Facebook feed. You see, my list of friends consists of mainly two groups: super religious conservative white people who live in very white places, and extra socially conscious and proactive Black Americans. Not everyone on my feed fits one of these descriptions, but most do. Consequentially, in general, if there is in fact an outrage coming from either the political left or the right, I have a front row seat. I see it. No one has to tell me it exists because it is right in front of me.
I have seen plenty of posts both for and against Colin Kaepernick, #BlackLivesMatter, and Donald Trump. I have a pretty good idea when one side or the other is upset, and trust me, they are… just not always about the things the other side says they are mad about. I cannot tell you how often I read of a scenario, or an event, that is being reported as having created some firestorm of apocalyptic levels from one side or the other, yet strangely, I never actually see this specific firestorm. One side is telling me what the other side is doing or thinking, and when I look to the other side-nothing. This happens all the time. And this bothers me. A lot. Like, a whole lot.
It bothers me because this telling ourselves what someone else thinks or feels for the purpose of solidifying what we ourselves think and feel is both dishonest (or maybe just inaccurate) and counterproductive. There is no solution seeking in such arguments. There is more often self-righteous meanness.
So please, before you hit “share” or “repost”, or even as you just read to yourself, if there is in that article this element of “they are upset”, unless this “upset” is described in very specific details of actions and events, just don’t. Stop- and do not.