Does it matter whether the news you read /watch/listen to is factual and accurate?
A friend of mine recently asked what I thought of this article,“Fibromyalgia Mystery Finally Solved!” I felt I owed her my honest response. In a long note, I explained why the title is a lie and why the article is blatant Yellow Journalism.
If truth maters to you, then you’ll want to boycott Yellow Journalism. (Scroll to the end of this post to find out how to identify it).
Yellow Journalism is a term coined more than 100 years ago to define news reporting. It describes unethical, unprofessional reporting, which uses eye-catching headlines, exaggeration, sensationalism and scandal-mongering to attract readers. The goal of Yellow Journalism is straightforward and simple. Attract more readers in order to make huge bucks selling ads. Yellow Journalism has become so ingrained in our culture, that few people today call it unethical or unprofessional.
There are people who have given up on the idea of “truth,” who believe it doesn’t exist and all of our efforts to find it are as absurd as Alice’s adventures on the other side of the looking glass.
I believe in truth.
- I believe that wise judgement can separate truth from misinformation.
- I believe that knowing the truth empowers us.
- I believe that misinformation, propaganda, and lies are manipulative, disrespectful, and just plain wrong.
So, evidently, does Oprah. Otherwise, why would she have made such a big stink about James Frey’s fictionalized Memoir, A Million Little Pieces. He called it the “essential truth” of his life. She called it a lie.
Truth matters. I say that everyone who slants, misrepresents, or manipulates truth is a liar. And liars are extremely cunning.
It requires diligent, shrewd effort to ferret out truth from lies in news coverage.
In assessing the quality of the news you’re ingesting, if you want to avoid Yellow Journalism, beware of:
- Scary, Provocative, or Sensational Headlines;
- Misleading Headlines (the accompanying story doesn’t deliver what the headline promises);
- Pictures/Video footage with few words or words that mean almost nothing;
- Quotes from unnamed sources;
- Unabashed Self-Promotion;
- Generic, lame, and/or bad advice offered by pseudo -“experts” (look them up, who ARE they and who thinks they really are experts?);
- Pseudoscience–claims, beliefs or practices incorrectly represented as scientific (ask a scientist to evaluate the data);
- News presented by agencies whose primary purpose is to attract advertisers;
- Articles written by writers who get paid for the number of “clicks” they generate. Their entire goal is to write content to attracts hoards of online viewers. Examples of this include the fibromyalgia mystery article published by Liberty Voice, and this article recently published by Elite Daily, “Optimistic People All Have One Thing in Common: They’re Always Late.”
The truth about what’s really going on in the world isn’t often entertaining. Sometimes it’s painful. But surely you don’t want to be lied to.
Where do you get your news from? And what makes you believe you’re learning the truth?