Ladies and gentlehumans allow me, for the briefest of temporal increments, to offer you a short but I hope thoughtful riff on a subject dear to my heart: journalism.
It’s often been opined by humans far more prescient than yours truly that journalism is about finding and reporting the truth. This is especially true in movies where fictional journalists are often portrayed as tireless champions of honesty and verisimilitude.
Idealistic fictional portrayals aside, it can be said that most journalists are honest folks with tremendous integrity and tenacity. They are not however, truth seekers.
In its most ideal form, journalism is about discovering and reporting facts, with no editorializing or bias to cloud the issue. Facts and truth are entirely different entities.
Facts are just that – facts. Ostensibly indisputable nuggets of information, but also lacking perspective and interpretation.
Truth, on the other hand, is a far more nebulous thing. Truth is based on the interpretation of facts. A truth for me may be anything but to you. These perspectives are built from our upbringings, our beliefs, and our circumstances.
Even in legal circles, an area where “truth” is supposedly considered sacrosanct, the idea of truth is built around a set of laws decided upon by complicated, flawed and beautifully mad carbon-based humans, not by some fundamental law of the universe. Consider that not so long ago, it was perfectly legal to own another human being. Truth is a constantly moving target.
This brings me back to journalism. In order for a journalist to “report the truth,” he or she must interpret facts through the lens of perspective – their’s, society’s, etc.
One of the reasons journalism has lost much of its credibility over the last few years has been this focus on so-called truth at the expense of facts. The image remains forever skewed, the truth elusive.
As the saying goes, “There are three sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth.”
Report the facts as they happened. The truth will attend to itself.