“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it” this is a quote from founding father John Adams. It is commonly quoted by those who are against freedom of religion. This quote can be quite damaging to those who reference Adams as being a patriotic man of God. But what those individuals who use this quote for their argument fail to do, is mention the sentence that follows directly behind it. “Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.”
How many times have you read an article or listened to the news and had your mind made up? You are aware that there are always two sides to a story, but in this case the facts are solid and damaging, and your mind is made. Is there any harm in one sided news?
Consider this story: A man admitted to authorities to killing 160 people. After further investigation, authorities find his gruesome claim to be true. The man admits to hiding in elevated areas where the unsuspected victims would not see him and he would shoot them before they knew what hit them. He told authorities that he killed in plain sight and got away with it. He seemed to be quite proud of his work.
Most of the population would think, the shooter is a murdering psycho path that needs life in prison, maybe even the death penalty. If they were left with that piece of information alone, they would be justified to think so. Let us ask, is there another side to the story?
Chris Kyle was the deadliest sniper in American history. He had at least 160 confirmed kills, although he and his Navy SEAL teammates say the number is closer to twice that. He served four tours, earned two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor. He was a loving husband, father, and decorated American hero and known among his SEAL brethren as “The Legend.” Does that change your perception on the shooter?
More than ever we need journalism that is firmly planted on a foundation of integrity. If we are exposed to a one-sided story, we will form a one-sided opinion. This one-sided type of reporting as multiple motives. One being the manipulation of public opinion. The media can sway the public in the direction of doubt or fear with just one headline.
“Spike in Transgender Suicide Rates after Trump Elected” this rumor started circulating right after Donald Trump was elected president. This piece of information was never found to be true. Yet, it did not stop people from retweeting the false claim 13,000 times before it was removed. This claim was proven to be false by researchers, but not before it had its impact of being shared 100,000 times on Facebook creating panic and fear towards Trump’s election.
91 percent of news coverage on President Trump is spun negatively. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. Previous polls done by ABC, NBC, and CBS said Clinton would be the clear winner. The news reporters did not hide their disappointment when the announcement was made. Who were they polling? The people’s vote did not match the medias reporting. Why would the media claim that the American people favored Clinton instead of Trump? Did they think that people would be more likely to vote for Clinton if they saw that others were?
Recently, the world has been witnessing massive protests on behalf of the black community. People of all races and from all over, are raising awareness and demanding to stop racism. The media has been documenting this movement and giving the general public a play by play to this moment in history. But what happens when the media does not do their due diligence and gets it all wrong, causing people pain and outrage? Take this headline from the Washington Post for example, “Racist hate for Bubba Wallace was inevitable. Now NASCAR must stand with him.” This headline is referring to a noose that was found in Wallace’s garage. Bubba Wallace is Nascar’s only black full-time driver. Finding a noose in a black man’s garage, during the black lives matter movement would make one believe that this is a hate crime. This would cause outrage and fuel a very emotional fire. NASCAR was outraged and determined to find the perpetrator, they installed cameras in Wallace’s garage and vowed to immediately expel the one guilty of the crime. This headline hit the press June 22nd, the very next day on June 23rd, this headline was released, “NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace was not target of hate crime, FBI finds.” The “noose” that was in Wallace’s garage had been there since 2019, before he was assigned to that garage. The rope that was described as a noose, was in fact the garage door rope. Not a hate crime, but a life hack to get a better grip on the garage door rope. We often see stories like this one, where the journalist jumps the gun before doing their research, causing stress, harm, and outrage to the public.
How can we obtain accurate, unadulterated journalism? We can start by evaluating our own integrity. Are we falling victim to obvious untrue stories because it lines up with our current beliefs? As imperfect human beings, we are constantly in search for validation of our thoughts and actions. If you look at social media you will witness a lot of people who want to be right.
Are we willing to accept the fact that we may have been spoon fed wrong information, or jumped to a conclusion too soon? More importantly, are we humble enough to change our stance once the truth comes out? Or do we see the facts and refuse to change, but instead change the narrative to support our original opinion? The integrity of journalism starts with the integrity of ourselves. We should only accept the truth, even if it does not fall into our initial beliefs. We should be as aware and strategic with picking our news source, as we are with purchasing a car. Do your research. Search for facts, instead of opinion-based research. You would not go to Ford to find out about Chevy, so make sure your research is not coming from the direct competition. Do not only study your news source, but study your rights and freedoms of this country that were paid for, by the blood of man. Knowing your rights can help you defend them; ignorance is the oppressors most valuable tool. Poor journalism will always be around, it is up to you to filter through the false narrative and bias headlines.