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January, 2017

Diogenes and the Media

by Larry

Diogenes, as you will recall, looked high and low for one totally honest man. Reportedly, he never found one other than himself. (Had he known modern psychology, perhaps he would have excluded all, without exception.)


Diogenes - Peter Paul Rubens (Wikiart)
A conversation over the weekend with one of my brothers got me to thinking along these lines about news channels, stations, papers, and websites. As the recent political campaigns and election-related coverage have shown us, it may also be hard to find completely accurate and unbiased media. Certainly there are news outlets that are better than others, yet probably none free from any distortion. To say there are biases wherever we look is but to accept that we are all human and prone to error. Despite this, some men and women are of better character than others, and so, it seems, may also be the case for news outlets.

Still, though there is bound to be at least some slant in any presentation of the news, certain sources are far worse and others far better in this regard. Are we actually in a post-truth era, so that we might as well get coverage from whichever source conforms most with our preconceived notions? Many settle by default for getting most of their news from social media, where the algorithms often help a viewer get the kind of coverage he or she likes or expects, coverage less bound than usual to a hypothetical truth behind the headlines. So too with certain TV news outlets that deliberately present things how they think people on the right or on the left want to see them broadcast. There can be a place for this, for instance if we want a shortcut to the main points, provided in a manner with which we feel most comfortable, content with a rough approximation of the truth right now, only looking more deeply into things at our leisure later.

On the other hand, in my view we need not accept that we now live in a fact-free zone, in which picking and choosing for greater precision is pointless. To me, we are not well served individually or as an electorate by sticking mostly with coverage offering what we already want to believe.

Just as we can fact check politicians' claims at sites such as FactCheck.Org and PolitiFact.Com, so we can scour the news outlets for those present opposing views and which are recognized as having conscientious staffs who try to cover the news in depth and with reliable, confirmed news stories. None will get it right every time, yet some journalism efforts stand head and shoulders above the pack.

I invite each of us to research the matter and come up with sources with which we feel not simply contented but which have a longstanding, deserved reputation for good news broadcasting. Each person can come up with his or her own list of candidates.

Here is mine:




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