The Lumberjack

Get your facts straight

By | Matthew Hable

You, the reader, have a moral responsibility to verify the truth when it comes to news. Fake news is everywhere and much of it has to do with the fact that the average person can be a journalist these days. Millions of bloggers and social media users distribute biased, inaccurate and partial information. Add bipartisan news organizations to the mix and we have ourselves a flood of conflicting information inundating our lives every day.

The Society of Professional Journalists says that an ethical journalist “strives to ensure the free exchange of information… is accurate, fair and thorough.”

A good journalist aims to report objective information that has been carefully verified. Readers should do the same. If you dig deep enough, you’re likely to discover that the source of a story has media bias. By understanding the motive behind the story, the reader can make a better decision about sharing information. To put it another way, don’t immediately accept news for its face value.

It’s also worth mentioning that objectivity does not necessarily mean taking a neutral stance.

“Because the journalist must make decisions, he or she is not and cannot be objective. But journalistic methods are objective,” said Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, authors of “The Elements of Journalism.”

Verifying the truth is one way to combat fake news. Go over the Code of Ethics on the Society of Professional Journalists website to gain a better understanding of ethical journalism.

“The first task of the new journalist/sense maker is to verify what information is reliable and then order it so people can grasp it efficiently,” said Kovach and Rosenstiel. Our responsibility is “to provide citizens with the tools they need to extract knowledge for themselves from the undifferentiated flood or rumor, propaganda, gossip, fact, assertion and allegation the communications system now produces.”