Information Ethics: A profession Seeks the Truth
This chapter discusses the problematic ideal of truth in that it extremely fickle in all accounts of life situations. No matter what truth is more than just a collection of facts and it means different things to different people. In the media objectivity and framing limits what an absolute truth may be. Packaging a story does more for a news station than it does for the public receiving the information. A focus on “current events” only to increase viewers and engage a larger audience now trumps the whole of a story that may prove a long standing issue. Lying and concealing the truth ultimately threatens the whole of our societal knowledge.
Are we ever really getting the whole story? Probably not. To me, that is extremely scary. I wish I could say that turing on the news would help me to understand our national and world problems, but it doesn’t because not enough time is focused on the absolute truth. All for what, news ratings? I feel that the issue runs deeper into the completely skewed priorities of our country. Forget about learning the truth, give the people entertaining tidbits that will do nothing to further our growth as a nation.
A changing view of truth:
- Pre-Socratic Greek [alethea]: existed in a time when information was only spoken (oral culture). By repeating messages, songs, or stories truth was kept alive for future generations. This was discarded when ideas were written down. --> We now believe what we see.
- Plato's Cave: links human rationality and intellect; it could not be touched or verified. We are all living in a cave.
- Medieval: What the king, Church or God says.
- Milton: competing notions of the truth should be allowed to coexist, with the ultimate truth eventually emerging.
- Enlightenment: divorced the Church, and developed correspondence theory stating that truth should correspond to external facts or observations. (Journalistic ideal of objectivity).
- Pragmatists: knowledge and reality were not fixed by but instead were the result of an evolving stream of consciousness and learning.
- Journalists view objectivity as refusing to allow individual bias to influence what they report or how they cover it. It is in journalism that all facts and people are regarded as equal and equally worthy of coverage.
- Truth lost much of its universality, but it was in remarkable agreement with the American value of democratic individualism and provided a challenge to objectivity.
[ Pragmatists challenge Enlightenment because it questioned the absolute idea of there being and objective/detached reporter while truth remains subjective.]