From Folk U: Reading Between the headlines – How to get more truth out of today’s media
By Manda Aufochs Gillespie
It’s hard to navigate the world today for while information has never been so accessible, misinformation has also never been so accessible. Although, I find it helpful to remember that half-truths and alternative facts and falsehoods are not new. I was taking a class once where we read an author many hundreds of years past who was bemoaning the difficulties of easy information and half-truths obscuring the actual truth.
“A Half Truth Is A Whole Lie”
“A half-truth is a whole lie,” is the Jewish proverb. And “Half-truth is more dangerous than a Lie; a lie is easier to recognize than a half-truth” says Maxim Gorky a Russian writer born in 1868.
In other words, while the internet and social media make the form of the onslaught of information, mis-information, half-truths, and alternative facts may be new, what is time-honoured is the desire for those in power to hoard good information and for the rest of us to be plagued by stories that aren’t perfectly true or aren’t the whole story or are, even, not the truth at all.
Reading Between The Headlines
Rex Weyler presented Reading Between the Headlines as part of Folk U Fridays. He was trained as a scientist and worked as a journalist, and went on to co-found the predominant organization Greenpeace known for their countercultural activism. He points out that from the beginning of history, we’ve had rulers that created or recreated their images using what we often consider modern propaganda (money and force and a plethora of half-truths) these include the bloody reigns of Cyrus the Great and Constantine the Great.
In modern times, almost everything in the headlines of contemporary media are half-truths at best. Rex points to stories of the civil war in Venezuela that is currently being reported. And the evidence that suggests what has actually happened is that the US has supported a coup on their democratically elected president in order to get out what are now the largest oil reserves in the world.
What happened to modern media in North America? At least one of the answer’s is the Vietnam War and the success that the media had in shaping America’s involvement in that war and then what came after. The easier to track element of what came after is the buying-up of North American media by private corporations and individuals, many with conservative politics. What fewer people know about is that the CIA bankrolled about 400 American journalists, including about ten that were at the New York Times including the award-winning journalist William Paley. Almost every major news agency was later found to have been infiltrated.
There Are Still Great Journalists
What can you do to distinguish truth from half-truths in your media?
Despite everything, there are still great journalists. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t able to make a living being great journalists. But there work is often out there on blogs, alternative news websites, in podcasts, and in books.
For Canadian media, I like the National Observer (started by a former Cortesian) and Rex Weyler publishes a regular Deep Green Blog on greenpeace.org. A few other recent articles of Rex’s include: Ecological Trauma and Common Addiction
What can we do? Of course, I must also plug the importance of local, community-based solutions to sharing and growing information that is both factual and relevant. To this end, the work of CKTZ and other community radio stations is paramount and I hope that the work of Folk University further provides opportunities for individuals to learn how to distinguish truth from propaganda and to share what they learn with their neighbours.
Top Photo Credit: Newspapers by Jon S via Flickr (CC By SA, 2.0 License)