To Whoever Left This Sign Outside of News Center Maine,

Hi, I'm Brittany. I too work for the media. Granted, the things I talk about involve pop culture, fart jokes, and fun facts. Much different than our friends at News Center Maine.

News Center Maine journalist, Zach Blanchard tweeted this yesterday:

Here's the thing bud, you do realize the media is huge, right? HUGE. It covers so many bases on a local level up to national publications and 24/7 news channels. There are certain publications that I criticize. There are many that I avoid and sneer at the mere citation of them. And it's ok if you do too. In fact, I encourage it. It's important to keep media outlets accountable.

But your anger seems to be misplaced and is spilling out in an incredibly unproductive way.

Here's the thing I urge you to consider. News and the way we consume it changed vastly after 9/11. More than ever, we were glued to the news. Our consumption drove up ratings and the 24/7 cycles were born. When there's no news or good news, do you think those ratings are up? Do you think people are tuning in? Clicking? Nope. We, as consumers feed the machine. And drama, turmoil, and conflict put the machine into overdrive.

And you're out here adding to it.

Look at this story, for example. The photo of your sign incites an emotion. People are either like "HELL YEAH! SCREW THE MEDIA" and click or they're like, "What is wrong with this person?" My framing this as an open letter has people wondering what I'll say. Ready to pounce on me if I don't line up with their opinion. Granted, I'm not writing this solely for clicks, I do hope you learn something from this letter, but the clicks are nice too.

Headlines are worded in creative ways to get you to click. Oftentimes they're vague enough that you draw your own conclusions that tailor to your own biases. They're even limited by character counts from Facebook and Twitter so then you really have to get creative.

All this to say, the media as a whole is not out there trying to shove misinformation down your throat. There are outlets that are selective in what they report, yes. There are outlets whose bias is more obvious than others, yes. (And yes, everyone has biases.) There are outlets that you will simply not like and that's ok.

It's not an us. vs. them. It's all of us.

I think recognizing the reality of our relationship with media is key. How our consumption often steers the ship. Once we recognize that, it's easier to think, "Oh I should read this before assuming anything from the headline," or "Let me see what this other outlet has to say. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle." The media DOES have a responsibility to us, but we also need to be responsible consumers.

Leaving this sign outside of News Center Maine is, to me, a display of cowardice and is utterly laughable. This is like one step above posting under an anonymous account to one of their feel-good stories on Facebook saying, "Why is this news? Don't you have better things to do?" We've all seen it.

Look, if you're going to so vehemently hate the media, do something about it. Advocate for truth with hard facts, and cite your sources instead of leaving a poorly colored sign and running like a cowardly troll. If you truly think COVID-19 is a hoax, what are you trying to accomplish with this sign? How is this helping your cause? It just seems silly and everyone is laughing at you, not with you.

The folks at News Center Maine are good people. Truth be told, they're the only source on television I get my news from. It costs nothing to be a good person. And I DEFINITELY don't think not agreeing with media makes you a bad person, but taking the time to make and leave the sign does make you a jerk.

Change the channel.

Do something productive.

Please, reevaluate your life choices.

-B

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