10 Orgs That Reject "Alternative" Facts
[This post first appeared at Forbes Magazine online, and is reposted here with permission.]
Where do we most often find real truth, real facts in a new era of Internet hoaxes, fake news stories and new political administrations that tout their own “alternative facts”?
Many citizens appear confused and worried. News stories from the BBC and the New York Times and Money magazine are reporting (with proof) that dystopian novels such as 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley are seeing a noticeable boost in sales. After Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump and pro-journalism speech at the Golden Globe awards in January, donations picked up to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Subscriptions to the New York Times and other newspapers have picked up dramatically since Donald Trump was elected president according to the Columbia Journalism Review and other sources.
Meanwhile, I’ve been hearing from several well-educated friends, who are wondering if their own reading habits are leading them toward facts or fiction. “Hey man. Got a question for you on this ‘fake news’ thing,” wrote one friend from my high school years. “What’s your advice and do you have an opinion on where to find some form of truth in our media today?”
One key question for any publication is this: If a reporter gets facts in a story wrong, will the news outlet investigate a complaint and publish a correction? Does the publication have its own code of ethics? Or does it subscribe to and endorse the Society of Professional Journalist’s code of ethics? And if a reporter or editor seriously violates ethical codes – such as being a blatant or serial plagiarizer, fabulist or exaggerator – will they be fired at a given news outlet? While some may criticize mainstream media outlets for a variety of sins, top outlets such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, NBC News and the New Republic have fired journalists for such ethics violations. That is remarkable in a world where some celebrities, politicians and other realms of media (other than news… such as Hollywood films “based on a true story”) can spread falsehood with impunity.