Back last year, on the last day of term 3, my 6-year-old got into trouble at school during play time. He was accused of saying something mean to another child. He came home frustrated that he got in trouble for something he hadn’t done. Now, my middle child is no angel, and I questioned his honesty about the situation. I dismissed his claims thinking his frustration would pass, and the truth would come out in the end when he had calmed down. It didn’t.
The next day he brought up the subject again, he was sad that the teacher believed his friend over him. He felt unjustified and hurt. I asked him to tell me the story again, he went through the whole lunch time event; school had ended for two weeks but he was determined to not forget about this.
He couldn’t wait to confront his friend asking why he would tell the teacher he had said something mean when he hadn’t. So, at the end of the first day of school he came home looking confused. His friend had told him he hadn’t actually heard him say the mean gesture, an older kid (his source) had told him to report to the teacher this information. Obviously, my son wanted to know who this older kid was; he demanded to know the name of this big kid; his friend’s response was “I can’t tell you or it will ruin the game”.
So, this got me thinking; is the world any different to the schoolyard tell-tales and mischievousness. Is investigative journalism dead and do we live in a world of opinion, assumption and fake news being driven by political games.
There are countless articles out there covering this very topic. I always thought journalism was supposed to be balanced, researched, unbiased and factual. Sadly, it seems today the majority of journalism is driven by agenda not facts. The amount of ‘tit for tat’ is astounding; between left-wing media outlets (mainly the mainstream or government funded networks) against the right-wing media (predominately networks paid for by subscribers such as Sky (UK), Foxtel (Australia) and Cable (USA).
There is a media war going on before our very eyes. And just like the teacher I mentioned earlier, who are we supposed to believe and why do we believe them?
There has been an enormous amount of false or misleading stories in the last 2 years; news that was agenda driven to propagate an idea or opinion with a political stand point. CNN a trusted news network (left leaning) retracted at least 7 major big headline stories in just 2017 alone. Fox News the opposition (right leaning) retracted 1 major headlining story in 2017. It happens on both political sides of the aisles. If you are likely to watch one certain network or read one certain newspaper you are more than likely to be conditioned into one school of thought, not by choice, it happens unconsciously. The danger of this results in no balance or appreciation for another point of view.
Our kids are encouraged to watch BTN as part of their education, a children’s channel created by the ABC network. I think it is a good idea to get the children to watch the news to find out what is happening in the world. However, there is only one channel, driven by one agenda and one ideology. The ABC Network is funded by taxpayers which seems to promote left-wing rhetoric with an unbalanced point of view or diverse school of thought. Having our children watch only one source of news channel bothers me.
Humans can be inherently lazy when it comes to critical thinking. Technology makes our lives easier and instantaneous and we don’t like feeling intellectually conflicted or uncomfortable, it’s not a pleasant feeling; so are we simply shutting down and avoiding our ability to form our own opinions. I say to my boys constantly “Be a Shepherd not a sheep”, a phrase I learned from my sister in law years ago, when my nephew was small. Don’t believe everything you hear, challenge what others dictate to you. I think journalism is dying because of us, not because of them.
We are making it easier by not challenging the articles, hence reporting is becoming sloppy, shoddy and in some cases hogwash. We need to restore critical thinking to the next generation so they don’t get caught in the indoctrination of left wing or right wing ideology through agenda driven journalism.
The creation of social media can mean anyone can be a reporter if they have a voice and a camera phone. Whilst information and news is conveniently in the palm of our hands, the quality and value of the reporting is often bad or false by unqualified mouthpieces. National newspapers are finding it increasingly hard to contend, many making life long journalists redundant; journalists who were classically trained to do real, honest and sometimes dangerous reporting in order to seek and report the truth. I’m not saying there aren’t still hardcore reporters out there, there are; but in a world of lazy thinkers and easy technology it is getting increasingly harder to maintain classic trustworthy journalism alive.
So maybe when we are reading an article or listening to a child, ask yourself, do I actually believe this information, do I fundamentally agree with its bias and more importantly why?
Thanks for reading Guys