Carolyn Blackmore: On fake news and propaganda
Kudos to the Today’s News-Herald editorial on freedom of the press. They are correct that this is not a political issue. Freedom of the press, like freedom of speech, is an important constitutionally protected right in the United States. The President, by virtue of his position has almost unlimited access to press coverage. His use of that privilege to sell the notion that the press is the enemy of the people is wrong as is Kelli Ward’s politically expedient repetition of the President’s words.
I agree wholeheartedly with the President that “fake news” is a problem, but his approach in addressing the issue is self-serving and scary. Some people defend his actions by saying the mainstream media is biased against him. But bias occurs across the political spectrum and is not restricted to the mainstream media.
This is the information age and the availability of news, opinion and entertainment through print, television, radio and internet media with few content restrictions has blurred the lines between what is news, opinion, or entertainment. Much of the information we are exposed today is biased, some intentionally, some not. Some of it is systematically designed to sway our attitudes, opinions, and actions in a certain way. Propaganda, such as that perpetrated by the Russians on social media is an ongoing problem our country has yet to resolve. It is up to each of us to help stop the spread of misinformation.
As information consumers, we have a responsibility to critically evaluate all of the information we are exposed to. We must not simply assume presented “facts” are true, but do our homework if necessary to verify before accepting or repeating them. We must learn to recognize the bias present in the information, as well has how our own biases affect our interpretations of information. Finally, we must get out of our media-enabled ideological bubbles – turn off the TV, purge our social media feed, and get out and talk to the others in our community about issues rather than interacting anonymously on the internet. We may find that we each have a lot more in common than not with people that have different beliefs than us.
Lake Havasu City