Juneteenth – A Celebration of Accurate Information, Also Known As Freedom Day

Juneteenth, we are told, is a commemoration of the day when the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas got the news that they had been legally free for more than two years. While the three-year old federal holiday is based on our national focus towards inclusivity, to me, this is the National Celebration of Accurate Information. 

You don’t know what you don’t know. 

In the news business, there is a reward for getting your attention. There is currently no reward for telling an accurate story. This contributes to the mistrust of news – even old school outlets like the New York Times or CBS News – because we start with the (not unfounded) idea of “oh, they are just trying to get my attention.” 

Why focus this in on Juneteenth? Because accurate information is what creates reality, what saves lives, and yes, what sets you free. 

In the fifteen years I’ve been writing and publishing Culver City Crossroads (and no, I do not write all the content, yes I do publish all the content) I’ve gotten comments from people who feel this the only accurate local news in Culver City, and comments from people who feel it is ‘biased,’ and comments from people who see it as propaganda. 

Starting with that last one; propaganda comes from governments, corporations and religious institutions. For the people who think I’m publishing propaganda, I’m astonished that you feel I have that much power. But do note – that comes from feeling, not from fact. 

We have been so torqued out of shape by social media, we have been trained to see anything that we don’t already pre-agree with as highly suspect, or utterly untrue. 

A free press is so important, it’s enshrined in the First Amendment, along with the freedom of religion. But how free is a free press when it’s bought and paid for by people who insist that only their perspective can be presented? 

As a publisher, I don’t have to meet anyone’s standards but my own, but I’ll offer that I have some pretty high standards. Around here, that’s not hard. 

Over the years, I’ve seen other other local news get much worse; The Culver City News is owned by a company based in Gardena, and no one who works at the paper lives in Culver City, so closing their office a few years ago has put the whole operation on permanent remote. They don’t have any Letters to the Editor online more recent than 2023. Now that the CC News has ceased home delivery, the readership has likely dropped in proportion.

The address for the offices of the Culver City Observer is listed as being right next to their anchor sponsor, Sorrento Italian Market, in a building owned by Sorrento Italian Market. I imagine there is nothing in the Culver City Observer that is not pre-approved by Sorrento Italian Market. There’s a lot to comment on, but since we are focused on accuracy, today the CC Observer online is dated June 20, 2024.

That is tomorrow. Knowing what day it is is not too much to ask from local news. 

The bit that I hear over and over again about ‘bias,’ that’s true. All human communication comes from the perspective of some human being ( or group of human beings) and it’s a built in feature of the system. Back to the old school – CBS has a bias, NYT has a bias.  If CBS tells you that the stock market is up, they are not lying, they have the numbers. If they don’t mention that the wealthiest 10% of the population own more than 90% of all stocks, their bias is to just report the daily numbers, and not give you the bigger picture. It’s the evening news, not a class in economics.

Language is so powerful; it can walk right past all the logic and just go straight to your emotions. How many times can you recall getting caught up in delight, anger or nostalgia and then wondering – How did I get here? Something you read, something someone said? 

When United States Army gave the news to the enslaved people of Texas on June 19, 1865, about a quarter of million people had their lives changed by getting accurate information.

Imagine what it can do for you. 

Judith Martin-Straw




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