Let’s have a tag day for journalists.

Professor Penny Collenette wrote in the Toronto Star the other day that “all news is not fit to print.” Frankly Penny, your problem is that you need to define ‘news.’ Do we really know how to separate bias, comment, opinion, speculation and reporting from the comic pages?

And do we have the right to define news for others?

We are all concerned that journalism is dying. Tirades, whether by a Rosie DiManno in the Toronto Star or in a Trump tweet in Twitter, are still tirades. They are also, in some cases, news.

If they start editing FaceBook and Twitter and the like for the news value, these mindless platforms for self aggrandizement will go broke. Mark Zuckerberg would have to go back to Harvard and learn something. Some people would have to go back to wearing a trench coat and nothing else to satisfy their need for exposure. They could use the telephone to assure themselves that they have friends.

But saving journalism will not happen with a shield law that protects the news persons’ sources. In fact, it would drive journalism into further depths of distrust. Any writer has to stand firm for what they claim. Protecting an unnamed source is not the answer.

If you are concerned about the butchering of truth during the recent American election, there is a simple test the writer should try. Just be your own editor for a while. You will find that the mind sees what it thinks is there. You can miss some terrible clunkers.

In the same way, the avid supporter will accuse your opponent of using words that really should have been attributed to you but they did not fit with the persona you have created in their mind. We saw it throughout Trump’s campaign for the American presidency that no matter how crude and bellicose and misogynist Trump could be, he still had his loyal handmaidens.

North Americans hardly live in something as specious as a ‘post-factual’ society. We know that facts matter.

But facts are also a matter of belief. If we really believe that we can sail off the edge of the world today, the fact that the world is round will still be argued by many tomorrow

Maybe we need to understand why, as in the last line of George Orwell’s 1984, we can all love Big Brother.

And people who deliberately use the Big Lie of totalitarianism can come to the same miserable end as Doktor Josef Göebbels.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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