As I was driving cross country this last time around, I stocked up on podcasts, whose entertainment I called upon during dull landscape episodes. Therefore, it was either in Texas or Oklahoma that I stumbled upon Seriously? by This American Life. The first act of the episode, the first 20 minutes or so, harped on the inconsistencies in the news, especially in the then-current election. Distressed by the glimpse into such high consequence, blatant lies, I started wondering where I might find truth, which sources I could trust.
When I plopped in Santa Cruz, I started searching for writing courses and stumbled upon something I hand’t considered…a journalism class. My first conversation with the professor proved I was in the right place, as he passionately preached the importance of accurate news.
Over the next 10 weeks, I learned about interviewing, how to go right to the source and get the truth for yourself. I learned about the journalist code, that any respectable journalist will strive to be objective, present both sides of the story. I learned that most papers have liberal journalists, but conservative editors, a necessary balance. I learned what journalists have gone through to get accurate stories, from undercover reporting, to such tireless efforts as portrayed in the movie All the Presidents Men about the Watergate Scandal and the reporters who brought it to light. And I learned which papers are trust worthy, which employ thousands of journalists collecting eye witness news and information every hour of every day.
I’m not sure if I will be a “hard news” journalist, as stress does not suit me, but it was nice to learn how to seek truth. The hard part on either side is allowing myself to see the truth, even if it contradicts my beliefs.
One helpful tip: in determining if a story is true or fake, seek out multiple sources. A hit news story will be covered by several credible publications. A fake news story will not.