It’s interesting my post this week was planned for media dishonesty. We assume because we’ve read something in print, or seen it on television, especially portrayed as a news article from a reliable source, it must be true. My research proves otherwise, which in the case of the information I learned from my daughter, I’m going to judge as false. (Just because I want to, since in my opinion, it’s a defamation of character and I don’t have to believe it!)
What surprised me was the large amount of media sources which apparently are dishonest. The article offers 101 specific instances of dishonesty by people or sources we would consider credible and having integrity. Everything is verifiable and I have included the link so you can check for yourself. I am not going to go into detail about all the ways and sources used which depict dishonesty, but I will tell you it includes television news programs like 20/20 and 60 Minutes; magazines like Time and Consumer Reports; established newspapers like The New York Times and the Washington Post; Journalists like Paul Bradley and Rick Bragg; Nobel Peace Prize winners like Rigoberta Menchu and Martin Luther King; and Pulitzer Prize winners like Alex Haley and Joseph Ellis; certainly politicians which includes Presidents; and News agencies like Reuters and Associated Press. These listed are the tip of the ice berg in every single area!
The article explained some of the dishonesty was from honest misinformation, while others came from outright lying, making up stories and people for interviews and creating quotes; falling for hoaxes and reporting on them as truths before further investigation; plagiarism; creating fake footage for news programs; bias; doctoring photos; conflicts of interest, even creating voicemails, faxes and web sites to help corroborate a story.
So how do we know when or what to believe when it is in print? And what exactly is “in print?” Articles written for the internet (including this one) needs no actual verification or approval. We have the right to write whatever we choose for any variety of reasons. It is up to the reader to question, research, qualify and verify said information! Some information is very reliable but an equal amount is not. The ethics involved include honesty and truth, but a grain of truth can be twisted to the unbelievable by those who interpret it. As reader you must read, then question what you are specifically looking for. Is it pleasure, amusement, facts, research, opinion or even something different? Once you determine that, you will decide whether to accept the information just as you read it, or search for further validation. Create a checklist of criteria you can use to help make judgment calls on the quality of what you are reading.
My point to all this information is we live in a world where the more unlikely, more bizarre, and unusual something sounds, is what is most likely believed. We’ve created a culture who finds good and right, boring! Our culture uses tidbits of information to fabricate something outrageous because people find that interesting!
This I find is particularly sad since morals based on honesty, truth, goodness, kindness, trust, fairness, forgiveness, cooperation among others are lacking, with the opposite of many of these traits taking precedence in businesses and certainly in the media. Information which can be made extraordinary or incredible is eye catching, grabbing minds and imaginations, and then can be placed strategically where readers can cause it to go “viral"; yet it is poison. The culprit of such behavior, despite the circumstance can rise to instant stardom, based on the information given.
I challenge you this week, to consider what you read, the source, the intent of the writing, credibility, why are you reading it and then judge what you have read based on your answers to these questions. Further I would encourage comments on the subject if you are willing to share.
http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/10/media_dishonesty_matters.html October 8, 2007 By Randall Hoven