Has truth been cancelled by opinions? I am filled with opinions as are most everyone I know. Some are more comfortable sharing theirs than others. From time to time I write. I share my opinions with anyone who chooses to read my blogs, knowing that not everyone will agree with them. I expect that the readers know that a blog is based on the writer’s observations and experiences from which their opinion is developed. Often bloggers link to sources that justify what they are claiming. What I write, I believe in. I gather facts and from there my opinions are formed.
When I read a news article, I expect it to be the facts, the truth, rather than an interpretation of them. I began to question my knowledge of the media and their responsibility to truth so I began sorting it out in my mind with dictionary definitions.
Journalism according to dictionary.com is “reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news”, while at the same time is “writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition, conceived of as exemplifying topical newspaper or popular magazine writing as distinguished from scholarly writing.” Merriam Webster.com defines it as “writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine, characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation, and designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest.” Perhaps my conflict has been because I had a higher standard for journalists than some dictionaries. That said, Merriam Webster does say “direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation”, so should it not be the truth rather than opinion? My naivety expects clarity- truth in the news, and opinions in the letters to the editor and the editorials. Years ago it was clear at least in my mind that newspapers and magazines were primarily fact driven in their coverage of current interests, and if you wanted stories with sensationalism you bought tabloids at the end of check out at the supermarket. However sensational many of those articles were and are, and even if high payouts were given for the information, there often was truth there, just truths that those involved thought were well hidden and wanted to keep that way.
So where is the truth? There is a war of words going on between the press and the president that disturbs me daily. Having gotten tired of hearing about “Fake News” on a daily basis, I began to consider this blog, that has taken me a long time to begin, not wanting to jump into the fray that already makes me uncomfortable. Fake, again from dictionary.com is simply, “something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent”. Of course the press is insulted. But then if what is reported is meant to mislead, deceive, or give false information to the readers, what do they call it? Reporting was in my mind expected to be a retelling of what occurred, although personal slant to some degree is always possible. Opinion, exaggeration, speculation, foreshadowing and characterization are important in the development of a fictitious novel; they are not part of news.
Give me the facts, just the facts and let me decide how I will interpret them. I do not want anyone else’s interpretation dressed up to look like the truth.
The newspapers are under scrutiny for fake news, reported by Social Media and TV which are doing the same thing, perhaps even worse, because they are on the air 24 hours a day. They need to fill air space so they bring in “specialists” to project what the outcome will be. This is invention of the news verified by reliable sources. Interesting but still not news. Prediction of the worst possible scenario is fear mongering. Again, are they not overstepping their bounds, telling the people what they are to think and feel?
The situation is not going to change rapidly. The press will continue for a while in defense of what they believe is reporting, and the president will defend himself from what he believes is fake news. We have to be observers unaffected by it all. Like in a mantra from The One Hundred Hours Foundation, be The Pond. Let the angry fish, the frightened fish, the opinionated fish, the misleading fish, all the fish in the media pond swim by. Notice them, but do not take on their emotions or become one with them.
Truth is hard to find in an abundance of irrational opinion based on fear and anger. Individuals have to dive into all the information in search of it, not taking any words as fact, and depending on their intuition to discover the truth.