Believe only half of what you hear (column)
London Community News
With the proliferation of the Internet has come no shortage of blogs, commentary, new media and websites trying to get you to read their information and patronize their advertisers.
These days you can’t trust what you read as being true or credible. Everyone thinks they can write and be a journalist and the journalism profession has been watered down as a result. Even long-standing media organizations are now turning to the public to supply them with information that may not be trustworthy.
As a city councillor, it is amazing how much misinformation and rumours I hear that are taken as fact. If you have questions or concerns about something you have read, check for yourself to see if you can verify it. When it comes to news in the Forest City, contact city hall directly to have your questions answered if you see conflicting information about a story of if you don’t believe what you are reading.
If there is an issue you are interested in, educate yourself about it and go to several sources to get the information. Don’t just rely on one article or one website to supply you with your information.
Quality journalism involves checking facts, going to different sources, getting the other side of the story and presenting a balanced piece. Look for news organizations that do this.
There are always two sides to a story, but more and more you are only seeing one side as busy journalists try to cover several stories in a day. Stories today are also shorter than in the past. Not all of the vital information can get into a news story or newscast.
And learn to distinguish an opinion piece from a news story, although the line there is becoming blurred as well.
Op-ed columnists are paid to give their opinions. They are presenting one side to bolster their argument. News stories shouldn’t have the journalist’s opinion in the article.
Sensationalism has also dogged the news industry. As media outlets fight for smaller and smaller pieces of the pie, getting an advantage can mean sensationalizing a story.
Headline writers will try their best to get you to read a story. The more daring or outrageous a headline, the more people are going to read that story. It’s human nature.
That is why gossip magazines sell so well. Sometimes we don’t want to believe the tepid truth. We’d much rather think that the big-name celebrities have all kinds of problems and issues.
Technology is a wonderful thing but it has also created instant news. In a rush to be first to report a breaking story, sometimes the facts aren’t checked or backed up. But the public wants news delivered quickly. In the scramble to post something online or send out a Tweet, mistakes are made. Then those mistakes can go to millions through social media.
News organizations also invite public comment on blogs, in stories and on radio and television. While this is fine to a degree and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, slander can creep in and go unchecked.
There are some fine journalists in Canada and in this city. But just be careful not to believe everything you hear or read. As U.S. President Barack Obama said in his speech to the Democratic National Convention: “Serious issues become sound bites. The truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising.”
He also said that, “Your voice can make a difference.”
If you do have something to say or have questions to be answered, I’d like to hear from you.
Sandy White, councillor for Ward 14, can be reached at email@example.com or 226-688-9427.