Skip to comments."Good journalism starts with being humble – about the fact that there is no such thing as truth"
Posted on 11/10/2012 8:09:19 AM PST by darrellmaurina
An article in Foreign Policy magazine a couple of weeks ago caught my eye: Terry Anderson explained why the world still needed war correspondents. Anderson was writing about Austin Tice, the freelance journalist recently kidnapped in Syria, and the dangers of the trade in general when going to a war zone.
Terry Anderson? A familiar figure among historians of the Lebanese civil war; a journalist most famous for a long period when he didn't write a single word. Terry Anderson had been the AP's Beirut bureau chief for two years when he was abducted by armed militias in Ain al-Mreisseh, west Beirut on March 16, 1985. He spent six years and nine months being held as a hostage by a group answering to the name of Islamic Jihad.
One point particularly struck me when reading Anderson's article: war correspondents are here to find and tell the truth, as best as they can. He grew up in America, Anderson went on, where freedom of speech and the free flow of information makes the democracy work. Where the proper way to fight wrong is with truth and honesty.
Truth. A short word, a big word. Democracy, honesty: my cynical me gets wary when reading these words.
(Excerpt) Read more at yourmiddleeast.com ...
Hmmmm. T.A. = A.T. ???
If there are no truths, then all journalists are just propagandists.
The problems inherent in this article are made worse because the author's denial of the existence of truth is in the context of a response to Terry Anderson, who spent half a decade as a captive of terrorists because he was trying to tell the truth about events in the war he was covering as a war correspondent.
Let's be clear here. The author isn't just saying reporters need to avoid taking sides in a controversy by presenting both sides’ version of the truth and letting our readers make up their own minds once they have the facts. (That would be entirely appropriate.) He's not just saying truth is often hard to determine — after all, it's often painfully evident that both sides may really believe they're right and neither is deliberately trying to cover up the truth.
What the author is saying is much more serious. After quoting a number of modern philosophers and other commentators who question whether truth exists, he comes to the conclusion that “Good journalism starts with the truth about the many guidelines the journalist is restricted by. Good journalism starts with being humble about the fact that there is no such thing as truth. Or as Richard Feynman, the physicist, put it: ‘we never are definitely right, we can only be sure we are wrong.’ Let's start with this. It would be more than enough. Right, Terry?”
This approach to journalism, while claiming to be “humble,” is in fact coming perilously close to saying all news is propaganda because, as the author points out, editors at the Atlanta headquarters of CNN and the Qatar headquarters of al-Jazeera may not want some stories reported.
We all know bad editors and bad publishers exist, and sometimes good editors and good publishers make bad decisions.
To go beyond admitting that obviously true fact and argue that there is no such thing as truth risks turning reporters into propagandists.
I fully grant that truth is sometimes really hard to find. I fully grant we sometimes make serious mistakes in trying to find it. Even beyond that, I fully grant that as reporters, in many (probably most) cases it is our job to present both sides’ versions of the truth, not to take sides on which of those versions is true. Obvious exceptions include things like Nazi death camps, the Soviet gulags, the devastation caused by Mao's Red Guards, or modern horrors like North Korean prisons, where governments are deliberately committing horrible atrocities and often trying to hide their violations of human rights from public view. Any right-thinking moron with half a brain should be able to see that mass murder and torture of people who disagree with their government is wrong — but let's not forget that Stalin was effective in convincing too many Western journalists that he was greatly improving his country during some of the worst years of his terror campaigns, and Hitler and Mao did much the same thing with their own people.
To deny that truth exists at all is to deny the entire purpose of journalism. If we're not in the business of trying to tell the truth, we don't deserve the protections of the First Amendment because we're no better than the corporate or government PR people who we're supposed to be holding accountable for their actions.
Journalists shouldn’t be worried about ‘Truth’. They should be worred about ‘Facts’. Give us the facts & we’ll figure out the truth.
Slanted news reporting first starts with an editor’s decision on what is and isn’t news. See my tagline.
Journalism isn’t about Truth-—Religion is. Journalism is about FACTS! And they get that wrong or spin it most of the time. There can be true facts.
Pathetic lazy propaganda machines—most so called journalists who refuse to do leg work—why I dumped all newspapers and use people on the internet who have proven to care about the “truth” and admit bias and apologize when they do misquote or make mistakes—as all people will.
In saying there are no truths, do they feel they are stating fact? If so wouldn’t that be a truth?
Again, this was a liberal NPR news director admitting this, on NPR. It was not some wild-eyed, far-right-wing conspiracy theorist.
Evan Thomas, an editor at Newsweek (soon to be defunct) suggested that liberal bias in the press was worth 5 - 8 percent of the votes in favor of the Democrats.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed.
That's what journalism school is all about, Charlie Brown.
That's why we need to form our own, alternative media, while it's still legal. Glenn Beck's channel is the best thing going, right now. Let's support it.
You are correct.
However, I’d like to add a caveat.
There are an infinite number of facts. The person writing a history or a news article must pick out which facts he thinks are relevant. By definition (and necessity) he is thereby suppressing some of the facts.
Then from the facts he chooses as relevant he constructs an explanation of what those facts mean. This is the second layer of interpretation and by far the most important.
Every historian or reporter must go through these two steps. The honest ones try to step outside their own preferences and beliefs when doing so, but nobody can truly succeed at that.
So the difference between honest and dishonest historians and reporters is that the honest ones are honest with themselves and their readers as to what their preferences and beliefs are, they don’t attempt to pass their constructed explanation off as “fully objective,” something that is quite impossible for mere humans to achieve.
As American conservatives we in no way support the ideas and
actions of monsters like Hitler and we are even philosophically
farther from Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot than than our liberal coun-
terparts. Our beliefs fall within what should be historically ac-
ceptable boundaries yet the vast majority of political reporters
treat our ideas and those who expouse them as evil incarnate.
Why is that? Is it because journalism professors prefer to spawn
activists of chosen issues to real critical analysts?
I used to hear that the job of the Fourth Estate was to make the
powerful uncomfortable. In our time it is only true if the power-
ful are conservatives.
To the deceived truth is fiction and fantasy becomes reality... To the deceived, hell will not be denied and truth will become all too real, and the fear of the numinous will burn in their conscience forever.
Remember your Bible. Pilot asked Jesus “What is Truth?” —Jesus didn’t answer him.
Democracy is Mob Rule by mobsters...
No democracy has ever been democratic..
Democracy was, is and will continue to be a LIE..
It is a scam by socialists..
Socialists make problems by givernment action then send the givernment to fix the problems they created..
Because democracy is a lie..
Democracy is indispensable to socialism.
The goal of socialism is communism. -V.I. Lenin
The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism .-Karl Marx
Is it true....that there is no such thing as truth?
I'm missing your point. Would you elaborate?
That is what I tried to explain once-—that there is always a bias in “stories” even if you don’t think there is. Every time you go beyond the real facts, like time, place, victim, etc. embellishment always happens, in making a cohesive paragraph.
Even place and time-—all things can be given a bias-—twist—emphasis—to make it seem more important than it is...or less...or whatever.
That is why Socrates never wrote any of his philosophy down. He knew people would misinterprete what he said because they wouldn’t be able to listen to him in real time and hear his inflections, or visualize the scene exactly as he meant it to be, etc.
News today is all about perceptions......what “feelings” the stories evoke-—when done by the Leftists. Skinner methodology. Their agenda demands the “correct” emotion to be evoked in their “stories”. If it is about homosexuals-—you have to think “good, moral people” or it won’t run. If it is about rich white men, you have to think “evil” or it won’t run. If it is about The One—it has to evoke “awe” and “respect”.
It is why I quit listening to TV and newspapers——they are a waste of time since it is filled with lies and half-truths to further their agenda.
The internet is great because I can select Thomas Sowell or whoever has integrity.
Yup. Whatever happened to who, what, where, when and how?
I’ve been thinking about this article and something struck me.
The author claims there is no such thing as Truth because people have different views of what happened.
Seems to me this ties in with the media’s peculiar notion that reality comes into existence, or (to put it another way) that if they don’t report something it didn’t happen.
Regardless of what the author claims, objective Truth exists. That humans cannot in any real sense describe it accurately does not change that fact. He seems to confuse the two.
Truth is God, an Absolute. Most journalists are atheists/socialists, so are moral relativists which means they make up Right and Wrong—Good and Evil—it can vary—there can be no Absolutes without God. Nietzsche pointed out that when you kill God—as the Marxists/Darwinists did, you eject all moral values. They become arbitrary. Then, truth (a moral value) becomes arbitrary—whatever one wants it to be.
That is why, our country will implode if we eject God from our Constitution. We were united under God. Without Him, we will be like a basketball game with no rules-—it will never get played without bickering and fights and angry people. Divided-—then we are conquered. The Marxists have been using their Hegelian Dialectics to force us to eject all our Christian heritage and beliefs because they control the minds of our children.
Everything ‘evolves’ as their Darwin Bible states—even their “truths” so that now we can tell little boys they are really little girls and it makes front page news—and people praise the mother!!! Praising evil!
Marx wanted “radical egalitarianism”. No differences—in other words-—he had to erase everything which makes human beings unique—and control everything they do and think—since they have to be the same and think the same so jealousy, envy and hate are eliminated and we have a utopia.
Truth has to be ejected to create his “utopia”.
Wundt states that when you can control young children (schools), you can actually make them believe that “Snow is Black”. Just like in the Brave New World and 1984-—to have no Truth-—you have to have a totalitarian state which controls ALL information.
That is where we are headed, where Up is Down, Evil is Good, Boys are Girls, men and women are interchangeable. It is what people actually believe today-—I see it in the papers similar things everyday.
Sad that people have no cognitive function anymore. TV and Schools are destroying the minds with disinformation and lies and Satanism/occultism.
Those who seek truth, have no problem finding it, as it is provided. Those who reject truth, continually seek a counterfeit substitute in their rebellion from what is provided.
Great resource! Thanks.
I think I ran into The Graves of Academe a year ago or so....it seems awfully familiar to me. I started studying curricula about 7 years ago with John Taylor Gatto’s book, The Underground History of American Education. It had fantastic knowledge—research—in it, but, he could have profited from Mitchell.
Charlotte Iserbyt talks a lot about the effects of Wundt psychology in schools-—a lot on BF Skinner and Pavlov, too, of course. What the public schools are doing to the minds of children is pure evil. Billy Ayers-type minds have written curricula for generations. It is sick.
Did you read that John Saxon article-—about Saxon Math someone posted on FR a month or so ago. I knew a teacher that refused to use any other math book with children, even though his books were falling apart from so many years of use. All the Newer Math books were awful and confused children (on purpose).
Democracy simply means that if I can get enough people to side with me I can screw over everyone else with impunity, until they get enough people to side with them and screw me over.