Do we really know the truth about News Events?
How do we really know the truth about anything we read, or hear about or see in the Media? There are countless stories everyday both big and small. Everything from 911 with its worldwide implications, to a small story about some rural teenager’s adventures in love and we are exposed to these as if they are absolutely real, as if we ourselves are there to see them happen first hand. But this is anything but true. Though few of us would doubt the Moon Landings, or the War in Iraq, or Afghanistan the truth is that for most of us these events are related to us by the media and not something that we know of in person. If not from the Media, then someone somewhere related these stories to us. Perhaps in school. But in the end, someone’s relation of the story was necessary in order for us to receive this information. However, everyone tells the story their own way, so there is certainly no absolute way of receiving a story, no matter how small, or how great the story might be.
In the end, everything is a matter of hearsay. Its someone’s testimony. whether we are talking about what we hear from other people, or what we see or hear in video the truth is its all someone’s representation of the “news” and not immediate fact. We are not there in person. Either someone tells us about it, or we see or hear about it in the media. But is that information certain? Can we really know for sure that those events have happened as they are being related to us? Can we be sure that the story began, unfolded or concluded the way it was related to us? How much of the original story would we be willing to admit as true if we had actually been there to witness it? Had we been in Iraq, would we agree with the general portrayal of events there? Had we been in the Moon landing vehicle, would we have the same ideas of the Moon landings that we do today? Probably not, but by how much would we disagree? Is there a even a small possibility we might not even agree that they happened at all-at least not in the way we accept them today on third hand testimony?
Immediate fact can only be possible if we were there. We can only say we are “certain” if we actually visited Iraq and saw the fighting, or spoke to O. J. Simpson and he confessed to us the truth, or we met Monica Lewinsky and she really did say she had a liaison with the former president. Would we think O.J. Simpson was indeed the murderer if we were intimately involved in the investigation of the two murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman? In the end, the question is always did we see something, or hear something, and did we recognize what we saw or what we heard as being of certain order of events that we can interpret? For example, it is always possible to see or hear something and not actually understand what happened even after our experience has verified an event. Perhaps a rocket flew into space in 1969, but did it actually land on the Moon? That would be left to interpretation in the end.
What we recognize depends a lot on what we have been taught to recognize, what we have been taught to see or hear and how we process that information.
In Iraq we were portrayed as the “Good Guys” by our government and media. But in other areas of the world this was not so. Our entire understanding is one that has been brought about by our habitual training. Thus we see a certain way, we hear a certain way, we understand a certain way. So even when it comes to immediate fact that we have personally observed, it is only because we have been trained to see or hear this way or that in a given way that we are able to finally interpret its real meaning to our lives.
Our own personal judgment on what finally happened or was heard or seen is a big load of hot enchiladas. The ultimate conclusion in our minds, verbally translated for communication to others is even more heavily influenced by our training, and societal and personal habits. Who won in Vietnam? What was accomplished? Was the war even necessary? All these questions are still being debated. Thus we conclude something transpired based much on what we have been habitually trained to think happened. This goes for each of us personally, as it actually does for reporters and editors, and photographers, and videographers and so on. All of them are “taught” to see things in a certain way, and then to relate them to the public. How they relate these events is in many way an entire scientific discipline and an art form to boot.
All information is “processed” before it gets to us
Leaving alone the media’s inherent structure as it is now and its own particular motivations as a group of multi-national corporate conglomerates, we can see that most of we are told or think we know comes from this media. Either through the “News” or through the programming itself. As when we watch a Sit-Com but realize that the program is loaded with political interpretations and spins and accentuation on specific perspectives, maybe not inherently our own. But one thing is true beyond dispute which is that this source is not a pure source at all. It is hearsay, its only a particular testimonial by the time the producers and editors get that information to us as recipients of news stories from Rueters or some other major news source network. In other words everything we see is processed by someone and served up as they like it to be presented to their audience as they want it to look.
So the ultimate problem is this. What do we really know when it comes to news? Aside from the fact that the news agencies themselves are in some ways limited, it is also the case that much of what we are shown is limited by their own views of reality, or their own views of what we should be presented as being reality according to their own better judgment.
This means there is tremendous limitation in the news. We are exposed to what those stock holders, executives, producers, editors and reporters want us to be exposed to, and only in the way they want these things exposed.
So what do we really know when it comes to the world? Mostly what we are told by the news agencies, or what we are able to read, or study, or have related to us from friends or family. But the vast majority of local and international news is distributed by the corporate media, and that is by far the largest segment of what we think we know about the world. It should be noted that even the printed media is indeed screened by the corporate media. Therefore it should not be assumed that those who dont watch television or listen to radio but instead read books are necessarily being exposed to a “purer” source than the average news junkie. On the contrary, the printed media is also cooked according to someone’s liking, and most books are going to be marketed and made available if they contain something that the publishers see as being “presentable” or as they might prefer to say “marketable”. In the end, no matter what the subject matter, even technical materials are in some way “cooked” to someone’s tastes. Often, the tastes one is exposed to depend on little more than blind luck of the draw. Whose taste did you run into, and who is it who published that book anyway and what are their own relationships to the broader media structure?
There is some doubt about everything we see in the News Media. Even some doubt the moon landings ever took place. Though there is much media evidence for each of us to personally consume and add to our overall belief in the event, the truth is we only know what has been presented to us by the media in most instances. Most of us don’t know an Astronaut who flew to the Moon, or flew in the space program. And even if we did, even then there would still be some question of the degree of truth that we are exposed to. So unless we actually participated in space flight there is a real limit to what we can be certain of concerning the Moon Landings. Especially since they happened so long ago relative to the average person’s life span. Forty years is a long time for each of us individually. In fact, we are individually very limited save but for our connections to the broader media.
Events that we see are only “probable” and never certain
Therefore, in the end it is a matter of our own judgment to either believe, or not believe. Moreover, much of what we believe or not is going to depend on what we think is probable or not probable! It becomes a matter of calculating the personal chances of something occurring or not. In our own personal worlds there are only so many avenues of exposure to the world’s events, especially the larger more distant one’s. We are rarely ever witnesses to these world events and so we must take the word of either the media, or the random individual who swears they have witnessed these events. But there is always a doubt.
We can even take the Iraq war as an example. It was a great media event. We all saw the bombings, but can we really be certain they happened as we are told? There is no great difficulty is orchestrating a production which looks real but is not. Hollywood does it all the time. Did Saddam Hussein really fall or was he even real? In the end it’s only a matter of chance, especially as far as each of us is concerned personally. We can only be so certain about the veracity of these events. And we are even less certain as to the actual significance of these events. What they ultimately mean is even more complicated and even more subject to testimony, and personal opinion. True the chances are ninety nine point percent that there was an Iraqi dictator and that he did meet the fate that was televised in the way it was televised. But there will always be a chance that things are not the way we perceive them.
Or take for example a contemporary news event, as a few days ago when we were told of the recent events in Iraq with the rise of the extremist group ISIS: did the Iraqi air force really strike the ISIS extremists? Was there really an aerial assault by the Iraqi air force? Well we don’t know for sure, but it seems likely that someone did hit those targets. But who? Well we don’t know for sure, we were not there and did not see any of this for ourselves, but, someone did. The BBC reporter claims he saw Iraqi fighters striking targets.
Were the pilots Iraqi, or US? We don’t know. We were not there. As far as the British reporter who saw this in the immediate sense, because he was there they seemed to be IRAQI…yet we must question why were these not televised before? Only after the Americans got there did these strikes take place. Is there a probability that those fighters were piloted by American pilots? Sure. It would make some sense. But do we know for sure? Absolutely not! We cannot know anything for sure.
But from here we must begin to wonder…is the Obama admin telling the whole truth or not about its involvement in Iraq at present? Is the United States participating directly in this war or not? This is a matter of speculation and it can go on for a long time and only after additional information comes in will we even begin to have an idea of what Obama is doing or not doing. In the end…we are left to take our best guess, and this justifiable. But anything that comes in will come in from the corporate media! Thus whatever comes in, whatever we hear, whoever the commentator, he or she will be chosen by the corporate media, or we will not likely hear from him or her. Before we hear from any commentator someone higher up must “approve” them. In the final analysis, we are forced to weigh the testimony of many sources before we can conclude what really happened and we can never know absolutely what happened. All our knowledge of the world is subject to chance because we are all limited individually. We can only wait till someone informs us of what they saw, or heard, or interpreted. Nothing is certain! Nothing!
Less competition between News Media means less certainty
A new phenomenon that did not exist four or five decades ago is that the Media services rarely compete with one another. They rarely question the story of another source. In fact most media sources today have a common source for their news stories, with the occasional special report by some network or local paper almost all stories come from the general mill of news stories. This takes out all debate of what exactly happened. True interpretations still differ. There is a difference between say Fox and CNN as to the interpretation of the story, but rarely is there a serious debate as to its fundamental truth and more often than not there is general agreement on all stories with a little spin to the left or the right. Instead of this increasing the ultimate believability of events it actually takes away from their probability of being true to form or not since debate about their fundamental existence never takes place. There is no systematic questioning of how a given story was ascertained or whether the methods used were valid or not. In the end it is not profitable to do so, but this can ultimately lead to even more confusion about what the ultimate truth really is concerning world events. If the system of knowledge gathering is not examined and re-examined there is an increasing chance that error has long crept in.
This is why it is time for some kind of change. It’s time to develop some better systems of understanding, corroboration, and verification. In the end everything we see is only a matter of chance. There is nothing that we are certain about, yet being certain, or rather being as close to certain as possible is very important. As citizens we must know. We must have some real understanding of where the nation is heading if we are to live in peace and prosperity. But this cannot be done by mere reporting of so called “facts” or events, since these do not actually exist by the time we receive them as individual people because they are “altered” on the way. We have to learn to make decisions, we have to learn to count the value of these so called events, we have to try to take a guess as to their meaning and significance in the overall picture, and have to insist on better and sharper information. Assuming as most of us have assumed that everything we see or hear is as it is presented is obviously not the truth, or not the whole truth. We need to have a way of determining how much of the truth we are seeing, and is there more to this truth than is being presented by the world’s media? Only then can we move forward. It’s time to ask the ultimate question : how true is what we observe, and what does it really mean in the end?