What is truth? What is a fact?
Once upon a time it was what was written in the morning newspaper, unless that newspaper was named “The TRUTH”. Then it was known that its “facts” were often less than real.
New reporters learnt their trade at the feet of old editors and experienced reporters.
Then TV arrived and the best, and most photogenic, reporters moved across to the small screen.
Editors still ran things, increasingly on behalf of the owners. Even the “old-time” News was messed with. There was a famous circulation war between William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. Using “Yellow Journalism” which was was the sensationalizing of stories of dubious veracity, it pushed public opinion and lead the United States into a war with Spain in 1898..
It has been an imperfect system for over a century
Yet generations grew up accepting everything that was written in the Press or said on Radio or TV.
Reporters are now “Edjumacated” in institutions and end up with a piece of paper saying that they are Journalists.
In the ‘Good Old Days” all information beyond that which we saw ourselves, came through the gateway of the commercial media. The Fourth Estate.
Now we have a self-proclaimed “Fifth Estate” based, not in the real world but in the cyber-world.
So we finally move to the purpose of this rumination. Not the differentiation between Fact and Opinion but the differentiation between Real fact and Cyber fact. Between Real lies and Cyber lies.
In the “Real World” there is face-to-face contact with informants. There is ear to ear contact with informants. There is written contact with informants. Each form of contact has its own level of veracity.
Here in Cyberspace, I get an email, a blog comment, a tweet or a Facebook comment. How am I to judge its truthfulness? Do I use an inbuilt bias and accept information which fits my beliefs? Of course not. I need more than that. I need some connection with the informant. Some knowledge of the character of the person I am dealing with.
Of course, it could be that the information is coming to me via a third party. Can I trust the third party’s assessment of the original informant? Of course information like this is usually “anonymous” due to reasons of personal danger.
OK, I won’t go on trying to sound as though I know what I am talking about.
Because I don’t.
I just want to know what are the factors which can lead me to accept or reject a cyber-sourced tip? Especially when there is no “professional” journalist backing the report? And no Government release confirming or denying facts?
Who wants to jump in and make a suggestion?