The battle for truth in the news

Hunter Kaap Rencis

No matter how engaged each of us feels with our own personal and political beliefs, the way we choose to ingest the wide variety of media outlets at our disposal largely determines what we regard to be the truth.

According to dissection of media bias conducted by the Pew Research Center, this means that as individuals and as citizens, we all have a tendency to gravitate toward media outlets that echo a standard of truth and moral integrity that closely reflects our own beliefs. 

As millennials, we have grown up with an unlimited volume of 24-hour media outlets, such as MSNBC, CBSN, CNN and infinite others competing for our attention to fill every hour of the day with headline news. 

If you graduated high school at any time during the Obama administration, then it is more than likely you may not even remember a time when the U.S. wasn’t fighting in Afghanistan, and there are many who have become desensitized to the constant haberdashery of “breaking news.”

We, as young people in particular, have aged right alongside the cusp of mankind’s perpetual infatuation with technology and the vast leaps and bounds we’ve taken to integrate it into our lives at the most personal levels. 

Our political views on Facebook and other social media outlets have given the people a megaphone to gather support, fund and fuel their message with other like-minded citizens in a way that generations of Americans before us were unable to do. 

We engage with our leaders and in the political process like never before. Thanks to our smartphones and the instantaneous access to assemble, the ability to speak out freely allows us to uphold one version of truth that is our own. 

But what about the truth? Is it possible that despite bombarding ourselves with news outlets and social platforms we have diluted the actual presence of historical fact? And if so, what kinds of historical facts will remain after what we have seen since the inauguration of our 45th president? 

The point is, whether your news and media diet is backed up by facts or opinions, as young people, it is important that we take part in the political and cultural atmosphere. We should participate in the battle for moral integrity of our nation as we strive to find our footing during this decade’s transition to the digital age. 

Whether you find truth in the value of a free press or believe in the “fake news” hyperbole spun by the White House, facts are real, and they happen every day regardless of our belief in their existence. 

In 2016, the Oxford Dictionary deemed “post-truth” as its annual “Word of the Year.” The term, now formally included the dictionary, defines a phenomenon (also called post-factual politics) of “a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.” And what a fitting addition to the English language it has been.