Talk about change, President Trump certainly has stirred up a debate about the press’s role in our society. As one might predict, members of the Fourth Estate are very much engaged. In the recent past, I’ve seen the following —
The Christian Science Monitor’s March 13, 2017 cover story, “Trump vs. The Media: The War Over Facts” (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2017/0311/Trump-vs.-the-media-the-war-over-facts).
A segment on the CBS News TV magazine “60 Minutes” entitled “How Fake News Becomes a Popular, Trending Topic” (Mar 26, 2017, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-fake-news-find-your-social-media-feeds/).
Time magazine’s cover story of April 3, 2017, “Is Truth Dead?” (http://time.com/4710614/donald-trump-fbi-surveillance-house-intelligence-committee/?xid=homepage&pcd=hp-magmod).
Even the Smithsonian magazine weights in with a short article in its April 2017 issue. Entitled “Never Happened”, it lists three examples of “fabricated facts in history” going back to the sixth century (p. 22).
So what does it all mean? Of course, it’s too early to tell now. (I haven’t even had a chance to read all of these.) But there has been one impact — April 2, 2017 has been declared “International Fact-Checking Day” (http://www.factcheckingday.com/). And what better time than the day after April Fool’s? According to the website, this idea “is promoted by the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter in partnership with fact-checking organizations around the world. International Fact-Checking Day is not a single event but a rallying cry for more facts – and fact-checking – in politics, journalism, and everyday life.” Available resources include a lesson plan for teachers, a fake news trivia quiz, a “hoax-off” among top debunked claims and a map of activities being held around the world. You can even sign up for a newsletter! They certainly picked the right mascot (photo).
Not that we need another day to celebrate, but we sure could use more facts. Let’s hope this is a positive step forward.