Real news vs. fake news

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

How do we know what is a lie and what is the truth when we watch the world news?

Sometimes the truth is wrapped in pieces of lies. Sometimes lies are wrapped in pieces of truth. Benjamin Franklin surmised, “Half a truth is often a great lie.”

How do we know what is fact and what is fiction when we watch American news?

Liberals vs. Conservatives. The right-wingers claim truth. The left-wingers claim truth. Remember the adage, “There are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.” Is there truth in the center for the middle-wingers? For the liberal conservatives? For the conservative liberals? For the independents?

CNN, MSNBC, Fox News — the three news moguls. How do we know what to believe when we turn on the TV or the Internet or Social Media? ABC, NBC, CBS. According to the National Association of Broadcasters, there are more than 1,700 local television stations in America that serve local communities.

Will the real truth please stand up?

For those of us who do not travel abroad, or run for political office, or know someone in power who knows someone else in power — how do we know what to believe about the happenings on planet Earth. Furthermore, there’s a plethora of conspiracy theories.

Do rumors spread quicker than authentic information? Probably, but the question is how do we discern fact from fiction? Winston Churchill proclaimed, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Did you see the movie, Wag the Dog, a 1997 comedy film, where a spin doctor hires a Hollywood producer to fabricate a phony war to distract voters from a presidential sex scandal? Interesting.

And sometimes history books omit, skew, or distort information and knowledge based on which side won or lost or which side has the most power and control.

And myriad individuals interpret the Bible, the Quran, the Gita, and other religious books by their own standards, beliefs, and perceptions. Many wars throughout history have been fought with religion as their stated cause. Sometimes religious leaders come as sheep in wolves clothing, too.

A few years ago, I attended 7 days of training with 35 people from various countries. We met with medical doctor and founder Patch Adams, at the Gesundheit Institute in West Virginia. This was a place and space to connect and communicate about bringing a little laughter and joy to human beings, especially children, in war torn countries; those living and dying in refugee camps, hospitals, and on the streets. We learned and practiced the art of being clowns so we could participate in GO!CLOWNS in designated countries. A man from Ireland talked to me at length and asserted, “What happens in other parts of the world is not what American journalists tell you on the news. You do know that?” Hmmm. What is real news and what is fake news?

“The News Literacy Project (NLP) is a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age. NLP provides these students with the essential skills they need to become smart, active consumers of news and information and engaged, informed citizens…NPL helps young people determine what they should trust, share and act on.”

Thinking, listening, watching, reading, reflecting, and communicating with others about the news, aids in the sorting of fact from fiction. Using reasoning and logic skills, while balancing emotions, is helpful. Examining motives and intent of world leaders, both national and international adds perspective. Knowing why you believe what you believe provides a foundation for understanding self and others. But sometimes, some things still appear as clear as mud.

Abraham Lincoln stated, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place. Then stand firm.”

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio.