GENDUSA COLUMN: The truth of the matter

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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I grab my coffee and newspaper each morning before listening to the 7 a.m. news to learn if a political, global, local, or weather tornado is heading my way.  Since I began writing eight years ago, gaining knowledge and introspection from what is happening in the world is paramount. I observe unpleasant, often unbearable events, but I am not one to bury my head in the sand. 

I trust journalism, or I wouldn’t be in this paper. To have the pleasure of working with several publications in this country, I find most unbiased, dedicated to seeking the truth, and honoring their profession with good works. 

Of all the things we can do to hurt our democracy is to trust no one, believe only in what we want to hear, and avoid our problems because the news might give us a headache or ruin our day. 

Misinformation, lack of trust in journalism, and growing reliance on social platforms are undermining our liberty and dumbing America. Conspiracy theories, extremist views, and political upheaval are shredding truth. And in fact, some truth is proven to be true.  However, if we examine only information we care to know, we will never find it. 

The truth is that untruths can kill folks. Go back and look at the COVID-19 outbreak. In America alone, 610,000 died. How many could be alive today if they believed in truth instead of a conspiracy? A disease fueled by sickness in politics.

Today, young adults obtain much of their opinions and judgments not from reliable sources but from peers, parents, and posts on social media. Sad to say, but not the most reliable news outlets. Parents may be prejudiced, peers are usually spouting what their parents believe, and social media is ripe with extremism. 

Many states have implemented media literacy programs at the middle and high school levels to combat the growth of fake news and conspiracy-laden theories. They realize that students must learn history and trust the truth occurring in their daily lives.

Do we want to indoctrinate our children in facts or fables? Do we want them to understand that even though we may not like what reality reveals, truth is necessary for making sound judgments?

Without trust in the press, where do we obtain facts? Find a balanced source if one is concerned about bias in the news. It is easy to do if it is important enough for us to take the time. 

Clive Myrie, a well-known BBC journalist, gave a speech at a media freedom conference, “Society of Editors” event in March 2022. In part, he said, 

“We now live in a world of individual, not objective truths. We all now have a greater ability than ever before to seek out views that reflect our own ideas of how the world should work rather than be confronted with diverse ways of thinking. Social media and the online space allow thousands and tens of thousands of ways to hear and see one point of view: your own.”

“What is the effect of all of this? Divided, ruptured societies. Us and them. Them and us.  A failure to unite in the best interest of everyone.” *

Here’s the deal and the truth: We can’t go on like this. I know many of you have your own beliefs, as I do, but they should never undermine the truth or spread hate, division, and animosity.  And many do so by saying, “Well, my behavior is helping America.” No, it is not. 

We can fault our leaders, political parties, biased media, and other countries for our issues, but the people who follow and support untruths and spread lies are America’s enemies. 

Mr. Myrie, who has covered the United States for the BBC, also said in his speech, “The pressure on journalists these days to dish out not facts but fiction is immense. The pressure to toe a party line, to pump a point of view, to ignore the truth and disregard that crucial duty we have as journalists to properly inform the public.”*

So, who is pressuring the journalist? Sadly, it’s the uncivil branch of the public.

The bottom line is the Lord says it best, “You are truly my disciples if you live as I tell you to, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

Are we living as disciples? If not, we shall never know the truth or be free.

*Reuters Insitute for the Study of Journalism

University of Oxford: “For the zealous and the powerful, press freedom is annoying, even dangerous. They are the true enemies of the people.” 3/17/23