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COMMENTARY: Ain’t It the Truth?

By SHSJC Student Bria Dickerson

America is at an impasse in crossing the bridge of truth and trust between government, the media and “the people.” As unprecedented political unrest threatens to hijack any semblance of trust and truth in our country, that bridge is not far from collapse.

Recently, Dr. Battinto L. Batts Jr., the Scripps Howard Foundation’s director of journalism strategies, chimed in on the perplexing topic in his National Newspaper Literacy Week comments explaining the news media’s role in preserving democracy and increasing news literacy of news consumers.

“Given the times that we are in, journalism and an appreciation for the facts has taken on even greater significance. Media literacy is a skill that everyone should have, regardless of their politics, to enable them to discern truth from fiction and to promote healthy and educated discourse around policies and events,” Batts said.

What we have lost as a nation over these past four years—and even before that to be totally truthful—is a discernment of truth. The last presidential administration’s 2020 election campaign was debatably stacked with lies, half-truths and false promises—even by some conservative media standards—that motivated and culminated in an insurrection against the United States of America at the Capitol.

Because of the persistent bashing of the media during these past four years, people on all sides of the issues, perhaps, ran away from seeking the truth. As lies continued to spread like wildfires, trust diminished to a grain of salt. People were choosing between the president’s words, the media’s words, or their own interpretation of both—an unhealthy way to live in the world’s greatest idea of a democratic republic.

Face it! This country needs the media to keep each other accountable for our actions and words. Trust is the underlying factor. To ensure an orderly and constructive idea of a functioning democracy, leaders and media can blend their worlds seamlessly by simply letting each other do their jobs with personally-determined and personally-enforced integrity and ethical behavior.

There is no doubt that the news media stages a circus under the big tent at times, with the ringmasters masking as talking heads and invisible writers. They produce news every day for vulnerable consumers to digest through television, radio and social media platforms. Sometimes the content is far from the truth in what matters most in most news matters.

Many media messages or analyses today are based on so many feelings. “I feel the president should do this,” or “it seems like the senate is doing that.” Statements like these can be divisive and misconstrued into something that is not. As journalists, dissolve the feelings for the facts. Journalists must be mediators between opposing sides, and the only way that can happen is if all sides trust the facts and trust the process of good journalism in seeking the truth.

Bria Dickerson is a media ethics student and junior journalism major from Bear, Delaware.