Monday, November 16, 2015

Post first, ask questions later

Tracy Brewer

It’s been said that the truth shall set you free, but whose truth?  Is it what you first read online?  The truth from the news report in the evening?  Maybe it's the headline in the newspaper?  And are you so desperate to jump on the bandwagon of ‘truth’ that you’ll believe whatever is fed to you first?  Unfortunately, media is on the side of getting news out faster than it is getting it out correctly.  Even your friendly, internet meme can be deceptively “believable.”

Truth in Action

There is a hidden meaning (albeit sometimes funny) in everything you do online. And I mean EVERYTHING. Like it or not, who you follow, what you post, how you respond and what you share reveals a lot about you.  Media and journalism is no different.  Their actions speak louder than the text they type or the photos they choose to post…hoping that YOU will latch onto it with empathy and make it go viral. Sometimes that backfires, even in the darkest of hours. Sometimes people can just sense your ulterior motive and will reveal what they feel, is the truth.

Truth in Numbers
If enough people say it and share it, doesn’t it give it substance to prove true? It can certainly feel that way, especially during times of political upheaval . Over and over again, a group of supporters will latch onto something posted in the media and want to either dispute it or validate it. Fact checkers have a field day during times like this and the online community has made it even more competitive.

If it is a lie or not, if you can share it first, it generates a buzz. It’s completely acceptable to dispute a ‘fact’ later than in-the-moment. As long as you can get that tidbit of info out before anyone else…and it gains a HUGE audience, the more exposure for your organization. If it is so acceptable to sway public opinion regarding presidential candidates then it should be pretty standard to accept a bias view regarding anything the media distributes…right?

Finding Value in the Truth

Learning about trust today is nothing like learning about trust a generation ago. You were once taught that the paper printed the real story, the evening reporter shared valid information and that “gossip” was unreliable. A fairly recent study exposed a small town value on their local paper and online media. It shows a confusion that has set in when it comes to trusting a familiar medium like newspapers versus online journalism. People seem very confused as to how trustworthy the internet can be and even in declining numbers, the newspaper had a small advantage in the small town. 

 If you look at the study from a more worldly perspective, you realize there are numerous countries that do not have the luxury to compare their news sources. Many are skewed views of a military/government run state, but don’t just assume that the US is considered the most trustworthy.. So finding value in the truth of our media still relishes in the freedom to investigate, on our own, the truth. We should appreciate the ability to verify a story instead of being forced to just believe. Maybe the saying should be ‘the free shall set the truth’ which really emphasizes our freedom to really determine the value of the media we consume.

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