11 January 2007

The "Truth" Shattered by Blogs

"There are facts and there are opinions. Our news offers up facts."

This odd little myth is one perpetuated by news organizations for decades. It was an odd supposition, resting as it did on a refusal to acknowledge how important context and culture were to even the choice of topics covered. A person living in Topeka, Kansas will not only be interested in different stories than a person living in London, much less Jakarta, but will come to the topic with different referents, comparisons, and values.

There are obviously "facts" that can be reported but the story doesn't start until one overlays meaning onto those facts. Investigative reporter Douglas Foster once said, "The only objective journalism is journalism with an objective."

The blogs have shattered the notion that there is a "truth" that is reported more or less effectively by the media. Rather, there are various goals that groups have - goals as diverse as a return to the 1950's to subordinating everything to the principle of continuous disruption in technology and business. Those various goals result in very different ideas about what constitutes a story and how to tell that story. Even more, those goals turn facts into stories.


Life Hiker said...

The wayfarer
Perceiving the pathway to truth
Was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly grown with weeds.
"Ha," he said,
"I see that none has passed here
In a long time."
Later he saw that each weed
Was a singular knife.
"Well," he mumbled at last,
"Doubtless there are other roads."

Stephen Crane

Ron Davison said...