Being the older guy I am, I was considered passed middle age when computers arrived, I have always felt more comfortable getting my news from the professional media, newspapers, radio, and television. Having worked in broadcast and print newsrooms, I feel that I’m getting as close to the truth as it is possible to get. But there is a “but” to that statement. I know the difference between a news article and an opinion or analysis article. According to what I’m seeing today, there are many people who don’t understand those words.
Most news outlets try to make it clear when something is straight news and when it is opinion. Television outlets aren’t always that clear on the matter but an astute observer should be able to tell the difference. An opinion piece is just that, someone’s personal opinion or observation of a subject. It is not a news story, so it should never be considered fake news. It’s an opinion.
In a poli-sci course I took years ago, it was demonstrated how propaganda works. Fake news is propaganda. An article about a world cup event, may have been skiing or something, Russia’s Pravda news outlet said, “Russia placed third behind France.” Certainly doesn’t look fake or anything like that does it? What isn’t said is as important sometimes as what is said. The New York Times that day reported, “U.S athletes took top honors with France a distant second, and Russia tied with seven other countries for third.”
What Pravda reported was the partial truth that it intended for Russian citizens to read. That’s government control of the press. If one gets information from sources other than professional journalists, one must be astute enough to read through where and how the articles came to be. If one is satisfied with getting information from just one source, how would one know?
If you hear something over and over from a single source, eventually you will probably begin to believe it. However, if that source is the only one saying this something, and you also read from many other sources, you are probably not going to believe whatever that something might be. This, I’m afraid is what’s happening with too many people, particularly those with a lesser education or intellect. Getting most of your knowledge from a single non-professional source is going to limit what you really know.
This idea of a “social media” sounds good but it’s nonsense because no one is responsible. A social media outlet sells advertising space to a foreign country that wants to intrude on our election process and no one is responsible for vetting the advertising. Joe Blowhard says something like, “I heard, and it has to be the truth, that …” No one has any idea if what he heard is the truth or if he even actually heard it.
Unfortunately we elect our less than leaders based on “someone said …” instead of taking the time to gather information from many sources. Sure I read the New York Times. I also read Fox News on the Internet, along with the Washington Post, BBC news, Reason Magazine, and the National Review online. I read the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. Do I believe everything that’s printed in all those publications? Of course not because a lot of it is opinion, and listed as opinion. The editorial page of the New York Times is not a news page, it’s opinion. All that reading gives me a fairly broad picture of the day’s news from the left, right, up, and down, and I read opinion pieces from those outlets as well.
To scream daily that all the news outlets except the one you like the most are dealing in face news is not only foolish, but you’re playing into the hands of those who want you to believe in fake news. No matter the subject there is always more than one way to view the subject and if you really want to be informed you must look for the various views available.
That pretty much explains the concept of a free press also. Yes, your “social media” expert has every right to his or her opinion, but never let yourself believe that only that outlet can be right. Particularly if few if any of the professional outlets agree in some form. We are free to read whatever it is we choose and we are free to believe whatever it is we choose, but that doesn’t me we are always right. Get as many views of a subject as you can before making your decision on whether it is fake news or simply someone’s opinion.
Until next time, read good books and stay regular
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