God, I’m so tired of all this fake news. There is so much fake news about fake news, its almost like its really happening. But I know better. For example. On Feb. 2, it was widely reported that there would be 6 more weeks of winter according to many goodfornothing news sources. The New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS, and even CNN, all lied to me. They all had the same unreliable source. Some rodent named “Phil” from a small Pennsylvania town called Punxsutawney. This groundhog is the so called “expert” for long range winter forecast. These news networks proudly claim to have relied on him for over a century despite a continued history of inaccuracy. But I rely on the news to tell me the truth. I probably should have known better and used my own judgement when I saw those shifty eyes, but the news said that there would be six more weeks of winter. Its barely been 3 weeks since this news originally broke, and we just had a second beautiful spring weekend in a row. Now don’t try and tell me that Sunday was only in the 40s which is quite normal for February. People were playing Frisbee in shorts yesterday before a big thunderstorm rolled through, not to mention that the freaking daffodils are popping and crocus are blooming. The news told me this wouldn’t happen until mid-March. Even the calendar, another long standing institution, claims that the first day of spring will be on March 20. Lies, so many lies, I just don’t know who to trust anymore.
Obviously, I know who the trust, myself. I need consume information with logic and reason as to discern what information is reliable and factual. By using my available resources wisely and carefully analyzing data from a wide range of backgrounds, I can reach a sound conclusion. The larger the swath of information I have, the better my own understanding becomes. The problem with the preceding fake news rant is that it is incredibly narrow minded and disregards reason and logic. Yes, the statement is outrageous, but it is not incorrect. The scary part about the reality of this dialogue is that it is being applied much more seriously regarding very serious subjects. It is a tool for creating doubt. Most people with common sense can discern that an outrageous statement is unfounded. However there are others who don’t want to be confused with the facts, and rather believe an outrageous statement. So lets break it down.
Yes, every single news source had a story about Groundhog’s Day. The headlines mostly reported that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and as the tradition says, we will have six more weeks of winter. A puff piece whose headline pretty much tells the whole story. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge a news article by its headline. If you actually read the articles about Phil’s predictions, many of them speak to the unreliability of the famous groundhog. It is also important to gather information from multiple sources. For example, the Washington Post clearly stated how wrong Phil was. The New York Times went to a different source from Staten Island. The Staten Island knock-off had a different approach and predicted an early spring. Thus giving me another angle to consider. However, it is also important for me to do my own fact-checking. The official website states that Phil is “only true weather forecasting groundhog” and that he has been alive for over 100 years. A gullible person might miss the point of the story and truly believe the legend. Nearly a month ago the news reported that more winter was coming, but my own reality is proving this wrong. New information came out that changed the story. That made the initial story inaccurate, but the report was true to the facts available at the time. It is important to follow the story by staying objective and gathering information from all angles. This will lead to a logical and reasonable conclusion.
Yes, we depend on the news to tell us the truth. It is easy to only read articles that align with preconceived notions. The harder part is engaging in information that goes against personal views. It is easy to doubt news sources that have an apparent biased. Some news is so biased, that it is safe to call it fake news. However, people will believe what they want to believe. News that seems so ludicrous and unfounded to the general public can be accepted as fact to someone who wants to deeply believe it. It is important to understand that there are people that truly believe unreliable news sources, because it aligns with their own beliefs. The challenge is not to prove the naysayer wrong, rather prove yourself right. I am open to your beliefs, but please justify them with reputable sources so I can form my own opinion.
The news depend on us, their consumers, to be profitable. Free in speech, but not free in operating costs. If the viewers want biased reporting, outlets will skew statistics to justify arguments. If the readers want unbiased reporting, stories will present accurate data to support evidence. You can be ignorant and focus on the pieces that support your bias, or you can be well-informed and objectively consume stories from wide range of sources. Common themes emerge from both approaches that defines the conceived truth for the consumer. The great thing about the free press is that we have a wide range of information to consume, allowing us to reach our own well-informed conclusions which we can freely express to one another. Freedom of the press is the core of democracy, not the enemy of it. This right must never be infringed and must be defended.