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October 18, 2017

Uncovering the Truth

By John Reynolds, 11:00 am

There are three sides to every story: Side A, side B, and the truth.

But it seems we’ve lost a couple of those sides recently, as every story is a battle between side A and “fake news.” Originally, “fake news” sort of made sense. With more media outlets than ever, from small blogs to national papers, it’s not uncommon to find yourself stumbling upon a made-up news story. However, this term rapidly evolved into a response given if you don’t agree with what is being reported or someone else’s views.

Debate used to be one of the things that made this country great. Two sides are allowed to have differing opinions and discuss them openly. Despite this, in the age of “fake news,” we don’t get to have civil discourse anymore. Often, you see people so entrenched in their views, they throw the term “fake news” out to dismiss the other side’s viewpoint, ending any form of back-and-forth.

How can we resolve this issue?

While everyone can have his or her own preferred news source, we all must understand media bias and how to form our own opinions. It is crucial that people not limit news consumption to one outlet. Instead, we must read a variety of sources with differing biases and form our own opinion on a subject, not just accept what is presented to us as fact.

Let’s use a recent news story as an example. Mike Ditka, former NFL player and head coach, was interviewed during a Monday Night Football pregame show about the national anthem protests by some NFL players. Ditka is known for being a very opinioned person, and he didn’t hold back on his thoughts during this interview, making headlines immediately. Here’s a sampling of the headlines reporting on that interview:

Fox NewsMike Ditka: ‘If You Don’t Respect Our Country, Then You Shouldn’t Be in This Country Playing Football’

NBC NewsMike Ditka on NFL Protests: There’s Been No Oppression in U.S. in Last 100 Years

No matter what your viewpoint, these differing headlines show that depending on what outlet you’re reading, you’re most likely not getting the full story. Fox News, which is known for its right-leaning views, chose to focus on Ditka’s opinion that people kneeling shouldn’t be playing football in the U.S. On the other hand, NBC News, which President Trump is currently attacking as a “fake news” outlet on Twitter, focused on Ditka’s claim that there has been no oppression in the U.S. in the past century. There was no right or wrong way to report on Ditka’s views, but if you only read one source, you clearly would not have gotten the full story.

It’s important to be educated about current events, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you only focus on one side of the story. The only way to combat “fake news” is by not letting the media dictate your opinion. So, please, continue reading the news. But from now on, include outlets you regularly disagree with. The next time you hear the term “fake news” tossed around, you’ll be able to discern for yourself the difference between it and the truth.

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// // Commented by Jon Ericson, 29Feb2016 // // // //