“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
Are we discriminating users of information? Do we recognize that many all-news broadcasters report little fact, some fiction, but mostly they spread opinion? Can we cut through hyperbolic newspaper coverage of events? Are we guilty of quoting columnists’ opinions as fact?
And then there is the internet. Research published by Social Media Today on January 12,2021 reports that 71% of Americans consume at least part of their news input from social media. As of July 2020, 53% of Canadians acknowledged accessing news in a similar fashion. Platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, Parler, WhatsApp, and Twitter have made everyone a journalist but without any rigour, code of ethics , or fact checking mechanisms. Social media platforms is where fiction goes to become fact.
How are we to make any sense of the flood of information and mis-information ? Not too long ago, I would have argued that the unbridled proliferation of information would be a good thing; that it would lead to a broader understanding and tolerance of different perspectives. However, people have a natural tendency to tune in to news sources that reflect their own views and associate with like-minded people on social media. This has resulted in deep political polarization and in extreme cases, radicalization and violence.
Well, we can’t go backwards! The flood of information and mis-information, facts and alternate facts will continue. So we can:
The Toronto Star and New York Times may lean left. The National Post and the Wall Street Journal may lean right. However, they use the same facts. These publications put the opinion pieces on the opinion pages . The “legitimate press” may not get the all the facts right all the time but they try. Many will remember an occasion when a broadcaster or a newspaper has the facts wrong! We remember, because the news source itself apologizes and corrects its mistakes.
I am sorry if you feel that I am preaching. There will always be people on the fringes of any issue or political situation. Those fringes seem to be eating into the whole cloth and polarity is becoming more dangerous.
My newsletters contain factual information that can verified by clicking on highlighted links. I try to avoid fiction. Almost everything that I write is opinion.
“Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it. Ignorance may deride it. Malice may distort it. But there it is.”
The usual reminders:
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