In this age of “fake news” and “failing” journalistic giants, high level political leaders are expounding untruths to national media in a seemingly ongoing campaign to confuse the public about fact vs. fiction.
Never has real journalism been more critical to the survival of the American way. At a time when so many newspapers and other media have been struggling, we are seeing a considerable surge in subscriptions to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Globe, among others. Several of the top papers have increased their coverage and manpower in Washington in response to the demand for more thorough and accurate news.
As a former journalist and firm believer in the Fourth Estate, I am so heartened that the public yearns for more credible information from reporters, editors, and producers who have worked in their respective beats for years, if not decades, nearly earning the equivalent of PhDs in their fields of expertise. This journalistic prowess cannot be discredited because politicians fear being questioned and scrutinized. The free press is a basic premise of our democracy and an increasingly urgent necessity for public understanding and awareness.
But what is the role of the media when longstanding professional journalists are confronted by so many misguided, unsubstantiated claims made by political spokespeople? Not far from any of our minds are the dictatorships and communist regimes whose primary goal was to offer media a version of the truth that perpetuated political doctrine. So far and luckily, we do not live in a country where that is accepted. Some journalists are disinviting those commentators from their shows so they do not become unwitting forums for misinformation. (Applaud!) Good for MSNBC, CNN, and other outlets for not welcoming or booking those whom they feel are untruthful.
But there is still great reason for caution. Websites known for propagating conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and truly “fake news” are now welcome in the White House Press Room.
What can the public do? It’s time to double down, tune in, sign up, and subscribe to the most credible and plentiful high quality news outlets that we have in this country. They need our support, and we need their ability to vet the news for us, minute to minute in this furiously fast-paced yet brightening new age for media.