The desire for truthful information is “elemental”(“whatever”)
Multiple ways to answer: What is truth? What is memorable and handed down (ancient Greeks) What abides in the world of perfect forms (Plato) What the king, God or church says(Medieval)
What emerges from the “marketplace of ideas” (Milton) What is verifiable, replicable, universal (Enlightenment) What is filtered through individual perception (Pragmatists) What I feel in my gut (Colbert)
Truth Conformity with fact or reality; verity Kovach and Rosenstiel say that journalists strive for “functional truth” – truth we use to operate on a day-by-day basis. One level of fact/accuracy: A textbook costs $215.23. Class starts at 2:30. The wireless connection is broken. The library closes at midnight, etc.
A second layer What is the truth about the facts? (Is this fact true: Pro-Mubarak supporters are now fighting with anti-Mubarak protesters.) "It is no longer enough to report the fact truthfully. It is now necessary to report the truth about the fact."
Meaning… Journalists are obligated to get the facts right They are also obligated to make sense of the facts
Journalistic truth is a process -- a continuing journey toward understanding- that begins with the first story and builds over time.
Journalism should be"the best obtainable version of the truth”(Carl Bernstein)
Journalism attempts to get at the truth in a confused world by first stripping information of any attached misinformation, disinformation, or self-promoting bias and then letting the community react, with the sorting-out process to ensue. The search for truth becomes a conversation. (Kovach and Rosenstiel, p. 42)
Truth is the goal; not an end point. “…getting news that comes closer to a complete version of the truth has real consequences.” (Kovach, p. 45)
Credibility The quality of being believable or trustworthy Which has the most credibility:Fox, BBC, CNN, MSNBC, the Reno Gazette-Journal?
Fact An event or thing known to have happened or existed; a truth verifiable from experience or observation; a piece of information” “Nevada’s unemployment rate is 14%. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)”
Opinion Judgment or belief. Opinions can be based on facts or on speculation; on evidence or on feelings. Nevada’s economy won’t recover until the rest of the country’s economy has improved.
Claim To assert or maintain as a fact; an assertion of something as a fact “Brian Sandoval doesn’t care about education.”
Evidence That which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof; Brian Sandoval cut the budget for higher education by 17.6%
Bias Mental tendency or inclination, especially an irrational preference or prejudice; a personal and often unreasoned judgment for or against one side in a dispute Nevada’s Democrats just want to tax and spend. Republicans just want to slash and burn.
Propaganda A form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented.
Of course, even when journalists focus on the truth, many people remain uninformed.
Room for innovation Maybe journalists should focus on correcting common misperceptions They could focus on truth squads, fact checkers They could have “just the facts” broadcasts, and broadcasts that are all opinion and passion Possibilities are endless