Buyer Beware: Do Research before Believing the Media

Believing the media is a risky endeavor, even if the source shares your values.


Many of the juiciest stories we hear—even from allegedly reputable media sources—fall apart when one undertakes a cursory amount of primary research. Earlier I had around ten Internet tabs open, preparing to write a substantive piece, but my digging uncovered that the original “news” broadcast I heard was incorrect—the “facts” spoken with total assurance turned out to be completely bogus.

I’ve been in and around journalism for more than 30 years, which is exactly why I view many reports with a healthy measure of skepticism. Precious few “journalists” are worthy of the title; many are nothing more than lazy hacks who print or broadcast whatever is fed to them, as long as it’s what their bosses want to hear.

Admittedly, even I get sucked in when I don’t have time to dig. What made today’s exercise so potent was that the false story ‘fit’ with my overall views; it was tempting to keep going, and pass along a slanted version that would present the general thrust, while avoiding those nasty contradictory details.

Thankfully I received grace not to go there. I closed the windows, and moved on.

[See also, “Lying Journalists Are the Result of a Lying Worldview.”]

The reality is that none of us has time to research every single issue of importance. This is yet another reason why centralization of power or information is so damning—the more authority we invest in a small group, or a single man (or woman), the more damage they can inflict through deception.

Today’s media is largely controlled by powerful individuals schooled in a specific and incomplete worldview. That leaves them–and everyone who relies upon them for news—blind to a host of real and significant dangers. One-size-fits-all may temporarily be good for profits and power, but in the long run it’s deadly for a large nation.

We need authentic diversity to be as strong as possible. We need freedom—freedom to pursue truth and, yes, freedom at times to be totally wrong, and to pay the price for our shortcomings.

So, when you hear assured claims (whether the subject is Climate Change, economics, or especially politics), do your research, and pray for strength to follow the truth, even if it’s painful and doesn’t fit with what you want to be true.