I’ve spent most of my life with the belief that I understood the world around me. A belief that our newspapers and television news stations delivered information that was worthy of us to know and wouldn’t alter or change the details to serve other motives or purposes. Several months ago I came across an article on a fringe news site (it was fringe to me at the time) that put serious doubt into my mind about the validity of the news that I had been convinced was truthful. My interest in the possibility that things were not as they seemed was ignited and I started on a learning journey that has helped me expose a lot of the misinformation I had previously thought was the truth. Call it what you will; fake news, misinformation, semi-truthful, etc., it wasn’t the whole story and I was starting to see the holes.
The path to learning started, for me, when I was opened to an alternative idea that questioned my current sources of news and information. No longer did I see what was being presented to me as the whole truth, further pushing me to find the details, information, and facts that I now desperately wanted to learn. Around this time I had started seeing posts from several people I followed that were having the same type of awakening of the mainstream media being not quite what they portrayed themselves to be. I decided to reach out, away from WordPress, to learn where they were at and sort of compare notes. I’m glad that I did, because what they were able to steer me towards helped accelerate my learning and I quickly became obsessed with the new sources of information presented to me. Each article that I consumed opened my mind a little more and pushed me to better understand what was going on around me that had been hidden from me by the mainstream media.
There have been missteps, incorrect conclusions drawn, discovery that a good source was actually biased and of course, most news agencies tracked back to one of 5 or 6 large corporations. The hardest part of seeking out facts, without bias or lean, has been finding sources that demonstrate they dont’ have bias or lean. Unfortunately, the truth is that every news source, regardless of independent or mainstream, has a little bias or lean depending on the authors and readers. I had to update my approach to find sources that were predominantly in the middle, or moderate, that reported with equal bias to both the left and the right depending on the story being reported. To date individual bloggers have been the greatest source of facts as there is an inclination of authors to support their opinions with the sources that led them to their conclusions. In Saner Thought, The Ripening Wanderer, Learning to Speak Politics, R.R. Wolfgang; all are passionate about their own views and will support them with their own sources. There are many more, and to those that I’ve had deep exchanges of comments with that aren’t included, I’m updating my blogroll over this coming weekend.
I don’t always get it right. Some of the conclusions I come to are off base, but not because I don’t understand or am blind to the actual facts or truth. Some of my conclusions are based on experience, of which, I don’t have a lot to draw from within my new reality. I’ve been privileged to have several followers, who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, leave comments that help me understand where I wasn’t quite right while at the same time offer an alternative. Helpful and intuitive comments that make me look forward to seeing orange dot in my WordPress application or get a ding on my mobile phone. Rarely do I get any negativity that prompts me to trash a reply, in fact, I’ve only had two in the 5 years I’ve had this particular blog. From what I understand, that is rare and uncommon, however with only 100-ish followers between WordPress and Twitter, it’s plausible.
Undoing 30 or so years of filtered news will take some time and I’m certain that I will continue to not get it right all the time. I’m hopeful that there are others going through the same type of learning journey that I’m on right now and thankful that the people I’ve come to admire online share my open-mindedness. I will freely admit when I’m wrong, and as demonstrated already, I’ve managed to get it right and offered an alternative to someone else that allowed them to change their own minds. This is an interesting community on WordPress, so many different types of people who, if in real life, I would probably not have ever connected with. I can honestly say to my family and friends that I have met people (online) that live all over the world and connected through words. My learning of the world around me will continue, and as such, I hope others will join me as we all find our own truth.
I think that once you realise that there is bias in news sources you are a long way down the road to finding out what’s really going on in the world. As you say, every source includes some bias, but it’s a spectrum – there are some that tell downright lies and there are others that are selective or put spin on particular stories. I am always interested to read personal reports via social media, especially if it means I can engage with the writer and ask questions.
Good luck on your continuing journey…
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I am pleased to learn that you have recognized the presence of the “Filters” in most news presentations and that you have undertaken your personal journey to find out what is true and what is bias.
Now if only the rest of America would follow your example this would soon be a better place for all of us to live.
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Here’s the thing, it’s generally considered admirable when someone can be passionate about their views but passionate viewpoints may not originate from facts but more from personal bias… or in the least, a personal interpretation of facts, which is equally full of variety. It’s been my experience on the internet that there is a LOT of personal bias being tossed into so-called passionate viewpoints. The trick is taking it all into a balance of knowing that bullshit abounds on the internet hence do some more research before committing to your own passion on any subject.
Here’s a bit of a history lesson for any of your Millennial readership… way back when news reporting was respected and the network news anchors were respected for their reporting… there was Walter Cronkite. His was the most watched evening newscasts for decades, during and after WW2… and certainly a news staple during the Vietnam years. One evening following the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive that shocked the hell out of the American public, he said the following…
• “To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”
Then President Johnson is reported to have said to his aids following that newscast, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”
No single newsperson on this entire planet has that much effect on popular opinion today because the presentation of factual or non-factual or un-biased news is all mixed together… leaving us poor slobs to try and figure it all out. We’ve also come to define “bias” as also being subjective to personal interpretation. “There.. did you see that reporter’s eyes shift to the left? He’s obviously biased on what he is reporting!” Now, toss into that mix all the talking heads commentaries to try and report all sides of a breaking news story.. and try and separate that from factual news reporting. For example, “President-elect Trump picked his nose today.” That’s the factual news. The next segment we bring in a pro-Trump talking head and a non-Trump talking head to provide balance… “That wasn’t Trump’s nose that was picked.” “Then who’s nose was it?” yada, yada, yada… and we are left trying to figure it all out. I was ok with just hearing Trump picked his nose, and move on with my day. Now some poltico talking head has to tell me Trump’s nose picking has international ramifications and somehow that’s suppose to make a difference in my world. Ugh. Why does factual news even need balance? Well, because there’s no such thing anymore. It’s left up to us to interpret.
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This is exactly why this has been harder than I anticipated. There are some things the Internet has hindered rather than helped. I appreciate the thoughtful response.
Happy new year 2017.
Good posts, beautiful blog.
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