Think! Sunday, Jan 22 2017 

Many decades ago in a journalism class, I learned about media gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are the controllers of what and how the public thinks.Every level of the media participates in gatekeeping to some degree.From reporter to publisher, each person determines not only what information is to be promoted, but also the content and spin.The higher up on the gatekeeper ladder, the more that step controls.

Gatekeeping may be subtle or overt. Even the most unbiased reporter can’t help but be partial to a degree. Turn to any media source, and we note a more distinct angle. We recognize what side of the fence they sit on. Their view of how the world should be is injected into every story.

So much of our news coverage is speculation about what might happen. The emotional spin on possible outcomes creates public stress, anxiety, and anger rather than peace, unity, and positive action.

Know that when one story or clip is shown repeatedly, someone is manipulating our emotions. It is a form of propaganda. Think about the motive behind repeatedly projecting that piece into our minds. Why would someone want you to see that taken out of context?

It is all of our responsibility to seek the whole truth, to dig deeper. We must find more than the handful of stories we repeatedly are shown. To understand a complete story or situation we need to check multiple sources. Check out “facts” (rumors) on credible sources such as Snopes.com. At the very least, if you can’t or won’t verify your information, don’t pass it on.

(See info on my books on my website and all my posts on my author Facebook page.)

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Truth Be Known Friday, Jan 24 2014 

In the presence of young children you hear some interesting stories. I worked in preschool classrooms for a number of years as an assistant and then as the lead teacher. It wasn’t unusual to learn from the little angels what happened at home the previous evening, some of which was best not repeated.

Most often, I informed parents of what their child told me. I felt they should be aware of what little eyes saw, how it was understood, and that I knew. I also assured them that I realized the story was taken out of context and interpreted by a preschooler.

I keep this in mind when interviewing and speaking with adults as well. We can’t help but taint the information we pass on due to our own personal viewpoints, experiences, prejudices, and knowledge. We make judgments and assumptions before we know all the facts. How often do you hear people comment on the actions of celebrities as if they know the whole story from the snippet presented on the news?

The “truth” is often buried in the midst of random comments, observations, and rumors. The saying made famous by Edgar Allen Poe, “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear,” reminds us to take lightly what is offered as fact. Even when an entire community speaks something as truth, it is not necessarily so.

Early in my journalism career a respected editor encouraged me to use credible sources and real voices in telling a story. I continue this practice when verifying facts even for these short blog postings. For example, in some of the past posts written on medical topics I searched sources such as the American Medical Association, Mayo Clinic, American Pediatrics, and Alzheimer’s Association for information. I also look for “experts” in the field, people with first-hand experience.

And whether interviewing sources for an in-depth piece or casually chatting with an individual, I consider the person’s credibility. Are they stable individuals really in a position to know what they are talking about? Are they so close to someone or something that they do not recognize potential problems or flaws? Are they jealous or envious of the person we are speaking about?

Determining the absolute truth may be impossible, but if it is important for us to know, we have to verify the facts to our best ability, assess the credibility of our sources, and make our best unbiased judgment. Anything other than that is pointless.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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