Chances are we all know someone – a family member, a friend, a classmate, or a co-worker – who believes in conspiracy theories. The temptation to fact-check their every statement may be strong, but it isn’t likely to change anyone’s mind.
With any human endeavor, there’s potential for error. While it is the responsibility of journalists and news organizations to deliver accurate and fair reporting, consumers should never assume that everything presented before them is the complete and final word.
News gives us essential information, while truth is complex, debatable, and often subjective.
Journalists get this question—or lament—all the time from people who think the news offers too much opinion and not enough fact. More than two-thirds of Americans say they see too much opinion and bias in news. Hence the plea, “just stick to the facts.” Here’s the problem: Serving up just the facts can misrepresent the news or even create a false narrative.
The personalization of news is a permanent feature of our information ecosystem that comes with some benefits and many challenges. News consumers are often overwhelmed by the amount of news they’re exposed to on a daily basis, and news personalization definitely helps by filtering that content. But algorithms that allow news outlets to curate information can lead to a filter bubble, polarization and extreme views.
This is an excellent question and a tough one to answer. According to the Pew Research Center, newsrooms are 77 percent white, which seems disproportionate at first glance. But according to 2021 census data, the United States is, indeed, 76.3 percent “white alone.” But data is subjective, and newsrooms do not reflect the racial makeup of the country in less-quantifiable but equally important ways. Let’s break these down.
Not enough. Journalists around the world are targets of both real and online attacks, and impunity for these crimes is on the rise. Look no further than Ukraine to see journalists risking their lives to document Russia’s historic invasion of Europe’s second-largest country. According to Reporters Without Borders, more than 1,000 foreign correspondents have joined the Ukrainian press corps on the ground.
Public trust in facts has been on the decline for about two decades, and it’s taken a toll. Americans no longer agree on a common set of facts. Many can’t tell the difference between a fact and an opinion, and a growing number no longer trust experts or institutions that used to be the source of basic information. These trends together have led to an epistemic crisis known as truth decay.
Press freedom is under attack by a thousand cuts – and not just in the usual countries known for their media censorship.
Journalism Program Director Sissel McCarthy talks about her transition from the newsroom to the classroom, anonymous sources and why a career in journalism is still a worthy calling in this interview with ForeignPress.org.