Editor’s essay continued, issue 982

491

By Chuck Woodbury
CONTINUED FROM RVTRAVEL NEWSLETTER ISSUE 982

Like most of you, I am sad about the violence at our nation’s capitol on Wednesday. But, no, I am more than sad. I am disgusted. It’s now noon Friday. I have been so upset by what happened that I have been unable to write until now.

I spent virtually all day Wednesday watching and reading the news. And I know many of you did, too, as traffic at RVtravel.com was half of normal. It picked up a little on Thursday, but was still way down.

The terrible incident was the result of an ongoing campaign of misinformation, gladly promoted by news media and in social media because it attracted big audiences and lots of dollars.

Those of you who know how the media works today understand that the easiest way to make money is to be controversial. “Fair and Balanced” is a joke: few online media outlets, right or left, even try to be unbiased anymore because it’s far easier to make tons of money by lying, bending the truth or exaggerating.

I can tell you, with my above-average writing skills, if I were unethical I could triple my income by sensationalizing what we publish on this website. It would be so easy! I’d just rag on Marcus Lemonis over and over about his business practices – that always attracts big traffic!

When we go back through our traffic statistics, the topics where we stuck our necks out drew ten times the views (views = $$$) of tamer topics. Before the Internet, the slogan “If it bleeds it leads” was the mantra of many news outlets, especially local television. “Good News” stories were always shown at the end of the program.

We recently introduced a feature in our Sunday newsletter called “Good News.” And guess how popular it is? It’s not! Nobody wants to read good news. We post it anyway. If I wanted to make big money I wouldn’t mess with “good news.” I’d just make up an article with this headline: “Rat bites woman as she sits on her RV’s toilet.”

Actually, I will write such a fake story for you right now to show you how convincing a 100% fake story can be. You can read it here. The fake story I will write will be about how the woman left her RV’s black tank valve open and a sewer rat climbed up through the hose into the holding tank and then somehow got into the toilet bowl. The story will further state that the woman sat on the pot and then “ouch!” – the rat took a big old bite of her butt! You know me well enough to know I would never write such a story (except for my fake story here). But I am telling you, unethical, money-hungry publishers do it all the time.

Remember the story of the guy who put his Winnebago on cruise control so he could go into the back of the RV to make coffee, and the RV crashed, and then he sued Winnebago and won $1,750,000? That now-urban myth has been viewed millions of times over a decade – but it’s 100% fake!

Fox News will never say, “You know, we think Joe Biden is a decent guy and we should give him a chance.” It would lose half its audience and couldn’t continue to pay its hosts millions of dollars a year.

Rush Limbaugh is quoted as saying this: “Never be ‘down the middle’ on anything. Nothing is worse for the ratings than ‘well, on the other hand,’ or ‘both sides have a point.’ If you are against something, be against it 100%. Anyone who feels other than you do on the issue is wrong.”

Rush would be out of business if he had a change of heart and quit bashing Biden and his cronies. The same is true for other talk show hosts, websites, cable TV channels, and for social media stars. This goes for liberal and conservative media.

As a purveyor of fake news you take your stand, promote lies and conspiracy theories as often as possible, and watch your readership and income soar. After 20 years of publishing online, I know this principle well, and I know that unethical publishers can make huge incomes spewing lies and even hate. And just like with advertising, the more times a message is delivered, the more people believe it. Is Tide really the best detergent? Some people think so because commercial after commercial tells them so. And one day, someone who has heard the message 50 times believes it without question — “Yes, Tide is better!” The same goes for political messages.

I will receive angry mail over what I write here. I will be called every name in the book. Some will write, “I read this newsletter to read about RVing! This does not belong here!” Well, I agree that most of what we write here SHOULD be about RVing (and that is what we do 99% of the time). But sometimes I feel strongly about something and choose to write about it. Most readers are fine with this.

After reading this essay, dozens of readers will write me and say they unsubscribing. “I will never read another thing you write.” But I can tell you, most will return anyway out of curiosity.

But I’m not stupid when I write something that I know will stir the pot and cost this website subscribers. When I write honestly and without fear of losing a hundred or even a thousand readers, open-minded readers appreciate this website even more. We almost always end up gaining more subscribers than we lose. Some of those who appreciate our honesty will be motivated to contribute financially to our efforts because we dare to take a stand, unlike 99% of all other RV websites which are so scared of offending an advertiser that they keep their mouths shut!

For the record, only a small part of our income comes from advertising. Every week, more readers support us financially, which provides our financial foundation. So I don’t tell our writers to avoid writing something that might offend a particular manufacturer or other RV-related business. “No, write honestly,” I say.

I hope the following happens in 2021: I hope the pandemic ends and our lives can return to normal. I hope all those people who lost their jobs due to no fault of their own will get them back. And I hope that our elected officials tone down their rhetoric. As a proud member of the news media for 40 years, I am thankful that our incoming president views the media of vital importance to a democracy and not as its enemy. Take a Journalism 1A course at your local community college and you will understand.

chucksignature

Your comments welcome. But keep them civil. I reserve the right to remove rants or those that are disrespectful.

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LdN
3 days ago

I don’t disagree with your premise, however I found it interesting that while you started off with “whether left of right” (sorry I paraphrase)….you then went on to use two conservative portals (Fox and Rush Limbaugh) as examples. Possibly you have never listed to the news on NPR. Possibly the reason you used those two examples is that the selections you could have made from the Left are too numerous to mention? In any event, this American has never listened (or watched) your two examples from the Right, and you do have to “look” for them. It is hard, however, to miss CNN and the other alphabet news sources which infect every public airport lounge, hospital waiting room, etc. Both parties disgust me and I will not live long enough to see a viable third party. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when we need him? If you do not see the hatred coming from the left, you are not paying attention. I do enjoy your newsletter but frankly I am not much into politics.

Brenda Bilton
2 days ago
Reply to  LdN

Well said.

Kevin Cullina
13 days ago

I look forward to reading RVtravel everyday especially now. Keep up the good work

Deb
13 days ago

Thanks, Chuck. I appreciate this newsletter and will continue to subscribe.

Gregg
14 days ago

Thank you for sharing this Chuck!
I do disagree with you on one point though, this does affect RVing. This level of hate, anger, and distrust makes for poor neighbors – whether at home or at camp. We all need to show some respect for ourselves and each other, helping one another, having empathy for each other, being able to disagree without being disagreeable. In short, to be true Americans.

J anne
14 days ago

I appreciate you can express any view you want and i do not disagree with what i read of your editorial but i don’t come here for current event opinions like the travesty at the Capital. It
was tough enough to see and deal with the events and then i want to escape here e.g. reading great articles related to RVing .

F Sanchez
14 days ago

I have been reading your newsletter for a couple of years and always find it very educational. I agree totally with your perspective in the essay. I made a donation yesterday. Thanks for keeping us informed.

Judy S
15 days ago

Chuck, While I do skim the Good News section, it isn’t my favorite because I don’t wish to extend my time online consuming random information. I’ve got a full, happy offline life waiting.

April
15 days ago

Thank you for your honest comments. It’s is sad that the media cannot be trusted on either side because of their own agenda and need to pay the bills. The attack on the Capitol was totally reprehensible. One thing we should seek to promote now is that we are all Human beings and all Americans. May we heal as a country.

Dee
15 days ago

Thank you. No excuses.

David Allen
15 days ago

This quote from your article ” I am thankful that our incoming president views the media of vital importance to a democracy and not as its enemy.” is the only part I differ with you on. He along with all others used the media for their benefit. As long as any media has an agenda, it will not be true and unbiased. The media manipulates all stories to their own agenda. I was gonna post your “fake news” story to some web sites but decided against it. I know if I left the credit to your site it would spread like wildfire as truth. I enjoyed the article.

Denise A Wellington
15 days ago

As I write this thank you note to you regarding your opinion piece on the attempted coup in DC, I have two neighbors in our RV park that are rabid fans of Trump. I am so perplexed because both neighbors are obviously kind, respectful, thoughtful people. I am also sure that if we needed help with anything they would help us.

Going forward though, I refuse to entertain, listen to or chat with anyone that wears a MAGA hat, flies a Trump flag or bumper sticker. No more, done, finished, the end!

I was on my high school newspaper staff and took more than one class in journalism. Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow when you have been fed sweet lies for so long.

Best regards and thank you for taking a stand.

David Allen
15 days ago

“Going forward though, I refuse to entertain, listen to or chat with anyone that wears a MAGA hat, flies a Trump flag or bumper sticker. No more, done, finished, the end!” By doing this you have just eliminated half the population! Seems kind of close minded to me. While I would condemn those that participated in the actions at the capital, I have to assume there are still people that support Trump that do not agree with that activity.

Wayne H
14 days ago
Reply to  David Allen

Well said

Joan Best
14 days ago
Reply to  David Allen

Fact check: Trump lost the election. (No significant fraud was found.) More than half the American population do not believe or support Trump. I hope (opinion) that after what he recently did on 1/6/21, that many if not most now see him for what he is, a corrupt insurrectionist.

Sink Jaxon
15 days ago

Hmm… that’s pretty sad you refuse to chat with or listen to kind, respectful and thoughtful people just because of their political leaning. This is exactly what’s wrong with our country right now.

Paul
15 days ago

Excellent article Chuck. I have told everyone who cares to listen to me that it is all about money. You name one thing in our political or media world, it’s about money. Period. Politicians and media moguls only care about the money that flows in their pockets. The rest is a lie.

Sink Jaxon
15 days ago

Chuck, I’ll be honest with you. Over the last two days I’ve read this essay several times and I have not found anything stating where you’re leaning left or right…but most of the commenters on this article sure seem to have their minds made up! Myself, I’m a registered Libertarian and have voted that way the last five elections. I feel the country needs a third party so as to get us away from all this damned division and have another viewpoint about how the government should be run, but I digress. My point is, what I’m reading here, my comprehension of your essay here is that journalism has got to get back to what it was intended to do, which is to report the news without bias or propaganda. That was all. Am I wrong? This almost seems like an experiment on how people will react to NOT actually writing something… but dwells on a razor’s edge.

Last edited 15 days ago by Sink Jaxon
john f migliore
15 days ago

Chuck, I appreciate and agree with your perspective on fake news! Sensational lies manipulate perception and reality.

Russ
16 days ago

I’ve enjoyed your newsletter up til now that you decided to express your political opinions I don’t think I want to be on your mailing list anymore. as a side note if your so called incoming president believes so much in freedom of the press why does he and his supporters want to silence anyone who doesn’t share their views

Bluebird Bob
16 days ago
Reply to  Russ

Waa…waa…

Rick Foss
15 days ago
Reply to  Bluebird Bob

Reply to Bluebird Bob,
Hi Chuck,
I agree with Russ (above reply) regarding your political opinions. I don’t want to hear it! It is your Constitutional right to express opinions but rather foolish to do so considering about 1/2 of the U.S. population (which includes your readers)…disagree with it. Next time you should also pan CNN and MSNBC in your rant, or let your daughter write an OpEd, she seems a little more level headed business wise! I am not an RV owner, I simply enjoy reading about an activity I would enjoy but cannot….I am also a $ contributor to your publication for that reason alone. Self aggrandizement is not a good idea either, “above average writing skills” as mentioned above and “rat bites woman’s butt!” qualifies as an oxymoron! I’ll give you a pass this time because you have done a lot of good in your tenure…..Pelosi should consider that!!

Denise A Wellington
15 days ago
Reply to  Russ

Inciting violence is not a viewpoint. We have had 4+ years of listening to people on all sides.
BTW – Current Administration has a Press Secretary and can call a press conference anytime.
Also, Parler has no rules. Post away. Say whatever you want.

Joan Best
14 days ago
Reply to  Russ

Private companies have silenced Trump. He can talk to the people any time he wants. He chooses silence.

Ward Simmons
16 days ago

Thank you, for this item and the newsletter in general.

Greg Thompson
16 days ago

After reading your editorial, I will NOT be unsubscribing!
🙂
Thanks for your honesty and practical outlook on life.
Also, just wanted to thank your staff for all of their hard work. You have an A+ product that I look forward to every day.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
16 days ago
Reply to  Greg Thompson

Thank you for your very kind words, Greg – and for not unsubscribing. 😀 When we hear comments like yours, it makes all of our “hard work” (which we all love) worthwhile. Take care, and stay healthy. —Diane at RVtravel.com

Rod Dyer
16 days ago

I knew there was a reason I like you! You are not stupid. Keep up the GREAT work

RVroots
16 days ago

If, as you shared, “our incoming president views the media of vital importance to a democracy,” how do you reconcile the censorship unilaterally imposed by the social media and tech companies? Freedom of speech is key to the continuation of our democracy as well as free and honest (open) elections. An intellectually honest discussion of ideas in public forums is more productive than corporate censorship. Honest and unbiased incites into the RV world is what makes this site so appealing. Thank you for doing your best.

Mike Schwab
16 days ago

They put that scene in the movie Darwin Awards. The woman driver put the RV on cruise control and a at curve it goes into a dentist office. She ends up giving her partner and unusual amputation which has to be reattached.