Fact? Or Opinion?

From NYTimes Morning Briefing, 11/18/19 (via email):

“Now more than ever, the lines between fact-based reporting and opinionated commentary seem blurred for people,” said Evette Alexander, research director at a journalism foundation. “That means they trust what they are seeing less. They are feeling less informed.”

Details: According to one recent poll, 47 percent of Americans believe it’s difficult to know whether the information they encounter is true. About 60 percent say they regularly see conflicting reports about the same set of facts from different sources.

I think this is a very real problem in today’s political news environment. Unless people take the time — and make the effort — to read or listen to more than one source (even if it’s contrary to personal leanings), they are going to “swear” that what they’ve read or heard is 100% true and accurate.

And I daresay, nearly all of us are guilty. We tend to believe (and agree with) the sources that go along with our personal perspectives.

I admit it’s difficult to enter into the world of diametric information. It can often raise the blood pressure a notch or two. But if we truly want to judge a situation (or individual) without prejudice, it’s important to look at all sides.

As many have expressed, the news sources of today are greatly influenced by corporate dollars, which means they often focus on the events and happenings that will draw in the most readers/listeners. This is all the more reason why we need to consider all sources … even those with “low” ratings.

In one of my recent postings, I encouraged researching various news sources to determine how biased your favorite is. While you’re at it, take a look at the ones you find at the other end of the spectrum from yours. Most likely you won’t agree with their reporting, but it will help you to see and understand why your neighbors/friends/work associates disagree with your political views. And it just might open up an opportunity to share something they weren’t aware of. Perhaps you might even change their viewpoint!

17 thoughts on “Fact? Or Opinion?

  1. Excellent take Nan. I heard a comment today on a talk show that resonated with me. Perhaps it’s time we went back the way it used to be and only allowed those entities that are actual ‘media’ companies to own broadcast/newspapers etc…It was that way at one time. I believe it changed in 1996. Now, of course you have Comcast, GE, AT&T, Amazon and others owing huge media conglomerates. Again, it’s the corporatization of almost everything we do anymore. Maybe it’s something we should look at as a society.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know if it would work or not, but -IF- we were to elect someone that took a more societal view of things (as opposed to political), perhaps some changes could be made in this country (and not just in news reporting) that would (begin to) turn things around. Someone that would help us to view “us” for what we are … humans beings who happen to be living on a planet that’s meant to sustain us … not the other way around.

      But alas. I fear it is the dreamer in me that even thinks such thoughts. *sigh*

      Liked by 3 people

      • Love the idealism Nan. We can never lose hope to make our society better. Once we do that, we give in to the corporate/oligarchical view that they know what’s best for the rest of us. I’ll never believe that. There’s more of WE, than there is of THEM!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Is it their viewpoint you want to change? Or is it their understanding of your viewpoint? I think it is the latter, but what I think is of no matter.
    Research has already shown us the one person’s fact is another person’s interpretation. Ten people see exactly the same event, all at the same time, but yet no two people’s “facts” tell the same story. Each of us notices something different which can change the whole story for us.
    So when we go looking for facts, we probably are not going to find the facts as we hope to see them. We may find a consensus of opinions, but we are not guaranteed facts.
    If we could explain all the nuances of our vision, that would help. But those nuances are based on years of experience, of culturization, and use of language. We cannot take our pasts out of our presents. Each person’s past is different, so each person’s present is different. Some want to know this, and communicate that acceptance of difference. Others refuse to admit this, and demand simutaneous similarity. We want everyone to see what we saw. Needless to say this seems to be impossible.
    There was a collision. if you were watching the red car you saw a light-coloured car plow into it. If you were watching the yellow car, you saw a darker car plow into it. If you were watching neither car, just the spot they came together, did you even see a colour?
    Facts are relative to sight. Opinions are relative to interpretation. That is my understanding…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course, you’re right, rawgod. Especially the “others refuse to admit” part. Open-mindedness seems to be in short supply among some people. Yes, we all have formed our views and opinions over the years, but some are more willing to look at the “other side” with, at least, minimal prejudice. Others? Not so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey! I actually agree with something you posted! See! Humanity has hope!

    I listen to and read from many opposing views. I have found that unless I do that, I can never get the whole story. While most times, I still stick with my core convictions, I have been known to change my stance from time to time.

    Anyone claiming to know it all, knows little. Being open-minded, I get to know a little more every day.

    Thanks for posting an excellent thought today!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hello Nan. I find there is a normal bias in reporting based on what a person’s beliefs are. Such as when watching / viewing a news source you can tell where on an issue the reporting is slanted too. For example I know when I watch TYT they will report the news honestly but from a progressive slant. When I watched Chris Wallace or former news anchor Shep Smith I understand their views on subjects will be from a conservative slant. However those are news people, much different from opinion pushers. Those I know to look up as they are mostly wrong and frequently quoted with out any attempt to verify the facts. The one thing that really burns my backside are people that take a quote of a fact and leave parts out to change the meaning. The other thing is to take a quote or finding of fact and deliberately claim it means something else. I recently had the pleasure of a running conversation with a tRump supporter on my blog who used both of those techniques. As for my self I do like to research and I try my best to be honest and complete when I make a statement of fact or be as correct as possible when I give my understanding of a subject. Some memes I have posted occasionally people will spot a mistake I missed, so I make the needed corrections. That really is the only way to build peoples trust in what I write. Of course as you know I am a news junkie, completely addicted ( I am watching the impeachment hearings right now online ) and most people do not spend as much time on news as I do as they have real lives. 😃😀😋 Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course as you know I am a news junkie … — Yes, that’s pretty hard to hide. 😋

      But it’s all good because many of us simply don’t have the time or the “drive” to do the research so reading your blog AND your comments often fills in many of the blanks.

      It’s unfortunate that so many take the word of the “opinion pushers” over the factual reporting. But like so many other things in life, we tend to lean towards the people who agree with and support our perspective. Very few are able to delve into the black waters of the “other side.” But in order to make informed decisions, it’s something we should all do — even if it upsets our equilibrium. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Nan. For me if I am corrected or directed about / to information I tend to put more weight to that based on how I feel about the person. For example if the person is of our community such as yourself, Ark, John, Jim, and many others I tend to take their corrections or criticism seriously. Hey we all have blind spots and limitations and I am well aware of my own. I admire smart people, people who have abilities I lack. It amazes me some people can bring detailed information to mind, to use them without having to look things up. I simply do not have that skill. I have large files of things on my computers to refer to as needed, then forget they are there. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

  5. There was a time when, by consensus, TV news was as neutral as possible, without extraneous comment. it took a major event to get anyone to break out of the mode. You could trust the news casters, like them or not, because that was what they did. They didn’t make comments, or rude faces. If there was a bias, it was carefully folded and put away for the broadcasts.

    I only get snippets of Fox broadcasts, because I have a really good set of earplugs, but when i hear them mocking people, and shouting at each other, I think, this is not ‘news’ this is the Pinky Lee show.
    But I do see, whether I want to or not, bits online of where our beloved leader has been, or not been, what he has said, or thought he said, and from that it’s fairly easy to make up my own mind without a newscaster telling me what to think.
    Actions do, indeed, matter.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Thanks for this good word, Nan. I agree; we all need to do the hard work of having a wide “funnel” of opinions and analysis, including some sources we will often or mostly disagree with. That was my practice when I was a Christian, and it’s still my practice now. I think this is a very important part of it:

    We tend to believe (and agree with) the sources that go along with our personal perspectives.

    I admit it’s difficult to enter into the world of diametric information.

    Bertrand Russell said: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” I take exception to how he phrased it; I don’t think the issue is mainly intelligence, and I don’t make it a practice to dismiss people as “stupid”.

    But he’s absolutely right about certainty vs doubt. So many Christians I know, in particular, seem comfortable with black and white analysis, secure in the knowledge that they know what’s true, and they know the God-given recipes to fix everything. But the older I get, and the farther outside religious thinking I get, the more I realize that the world (and its issues and problems) is very grey. The answers are not simple. Being “cocksure” to me is a sign that you haven’t engaged deeply enough with the issues, especially by thinking about the best analysis of those you disagree with. It’s hard work, and it’s uncomfortable, and you have to be willing to say, “This is a tough one. I can see merit in the arguments from both sides, and I’m not yet sure what I think the best solution would be.” I think a lot of people are not willing to do that; they see people who are unsure and say “I don’t know” as being weak… and being unwilling to appear weak themselves, they take refuge in a strong opinion, are often vocally dismissive of other views, etc.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Brent — I’m glad you found merit in my post. Sometimes I feel I’ve written something worthwhile … and sometimes not. 😉

      Your statement — I think a lot of people are not willing to do that — truly sums it up. Most of us simply do NOT like leaving our comfort zone. It takes work, plus it can be very unsettling. But I think there are times when we would greatly benefit by considering other viewpoints. And I think this works in both religion and politics.

      I recently had an online discussion with a Jehovah Witness. In the (far distant) past, I did quite a bit of reading on the various beliefs (and sects) so I was able to discuss her religion with some degree of knowledge rather than simply beating her down. It’s not likely her perspective will change, but hopefully I got her to thinking — and to me, that’s always good whether in politics, religion, or any other sensitive topic.

      I agree that to some people saying “I don’t know” makes them appear weak. And that’s unfortunate because we can ALL learn something new.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I am an agnostic exception among my large Roman Catholic family and friends. What more often than not makes me refrain from engaging in discussions is precisely their coming across “cocksure”, an expression that has such an unfavorable, arrogant connotation – of which I am cocksure they are unaware. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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