What we believe versus what is true

View from the Trench By Jayne Flores

“It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so.”

That quote from Will Rogers has never been more true than it is today. Rogers was a film star, columnist, author and radio personality. The journalist H.L. Mencken referred to Rogers in 1928 as “the most dangerous writer alive.”

Rogers wrote during the early part of the 20th century, before and during the Great Depression, at a time when many Americans were struggling. The societal parallels to today are striking—people without jobs, families struggling, uncertain futures. Except for one thing: in the 1920s, we didn’t have social media, where anyone and everyone can post things that they believe to be true—even if those things are in fact not true.

People should be cognizant of sources on social or any media. Ignore memes where anyone can make up a quote and post it on a colorful background or against a photo meant to illustrate their opinion, which they somehow think magically morphs it into “fact.”

Is the source of the information you are reading, watching, listening to, or spewing forward a legitimate source?

Then again, what, in this day and age, constitutes a “legitimate” source? Many people no longer trust the 24-hour “news” channels because they say there is too much talk and opinion, and not enough focus on expertise or factual information. Or they focus only on sources that they feel validate their own opinion.

Young people don’t even watch or read traditional news anymore. Everything for them is gathered through their smartphones.

I majored in journalism in college, so this is a subject on which I feel I am somewhat qualified to speak. The main tenet of the Society of Professional Journalism’s Code of Ethics is to “seek truth and report it.”

A legitimate news source should have no other agenda than to inform the public. You should absolutely read, watch, or listen to sources and opinions on both sides of a particular issue. But be well aware of their bias.

An article on webliteracy.pressbooks.com entitled, “What makes a trustworthy news source?”, notes that good news sources “have significant processes and resources dedicated to promoting accuracy and correctin