Melody Kramer

People Not In News Commenting on The News: Meet Brian

25 Dec 2014 by melodyjoykramer

Meet Brian. He’s a father, husband, Wall Street IT Project Director, sports fan and musician (in roughly that order.) He’s also a really good career counselor and mentor for anyone who participated in the Penn Band. He’s an avid participant on our listserv, Oxymoron, and always willing and ready to lend a helping hand.

Brian, who tweets @familygreenberg, was kind enough to answer some questions about how he gets his news. If you don’t work in news, live outside of DC/NYC, and would like to participate, let me know. (The rest of the series is here.)

1. How do you get your news?

Web aggregators (Google News, My Yahoo, etc), Social Media (Facebook, Twitter), email from friends (Oxy) (See here for more on Oxy)

**2. What instrument do you play? **

Trumpet, Piano

3. What do you think is the best middle name?

My middle name is Michael and it has never let me down. I lack sufficient experience with other middle names to properly compare.

4. Who’s doing it right in news?

Complicated question. If it’s a story that requires specific expertise, I’ll look to sources I trust on that topic. If it’s a “Top Stories/National or International News” kind of story, I’ll usually stick with the big outlets, but will read multiple accounts of the same story to wash away the various errors and biases (especially if it’s political). So, for example, if Apple releases a new iPhone, I’ll probably look to CNET or AppleInsider, but I would NEVER read about it in the New York Times, because they are likely to get it 20-30% wrong. If Congress just passed a new law, though, I’ll read what the Times has to say, but then also click around and see what Fox News and MSNBC think, so I can draw my own conclusions about what’s really going on.

5. What’s the first news event that you remember?

The US Bicentennial (1976).

6. What was the best thing that happened to you this week?

My Dad came home from the hospital.

7. Where do you live? Region is fine. City is better, but optional.

Scotch Plains, NJ

8. What do you absolutely hate about the news?

“Hate” is a strong word. There’s never been so much information available in such real time. I dislike the emphasis on ratings/page views, which means it’s better to be first than to be right. I dislike that nothing is deemed interesting unless it’s entertaining, so people like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and John Oliver can become people’s primary news sources, and brush off inaccuracies in their reporting with “we’re not the news, we’re just a comedy show.”

And I dislike that as a result, I have to constantly be my own editor. I’m just barely old enough to remember when journalists kept an audience by being consistently trustworthy and well-researched, not by “getting an exclusive interview with the latest person to commit a “gaffe,” or by choosing sides and then satirizing the other side into bumbling idiots or evil geniuses. If the Cronkites, Brokaws, Russerts, Jennings, etc. were tweeting, posting and updating today, I’d probably be more willing to read just one story and walk away feeling informed. Today’s model allows for more voices to be heard, which is great, but it requires more work on our part to stay truly informed.

Or, in less than 140 characters: With great power comes great responsibility.

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