The truth matters.
Whether you’re a consumer or producer of media, there is an onus to seek out credible sources of information and to verify news before it is spread.
On Thursday a panel of media experts shared with members of the Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium meeting why it’s important for journalists to provide honest coverage and why it’s equally important for consumers to make sure the news they are taking in is coming from reputable sources.
“The truth matters to us because it is the basis of our credibility,” said Susan Ellerbach, executive editor of the Tulsa World. “In the environment we live in now it becomes even more important for media outlets to make sure they are reporting accurate information.”
The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that trust among the general population fell to 43 percent. The collapse in trust was driven by a lack of faith in government and gross lack of trust in the media, which ranked as the least trusted institution.
According to that report, 63 percent of respondents said they couldn’t tell good journalism from rumor or falsehoods and couldn’t determine whether it was produced by a respected organization.
“That should concern a lot of us,” said Rachel Anderson, Tulsa campus director for the Greenheck Group. “We need to make sure the information we are putting out there is truthful and accurate.”
There’s no denying the power of social media in rapidly spreading news to a large audience. Digital marketers are aware of this, and by design the more a person consumes about a topic, the more they will see it in their news feed.
“We are creating our own culture in that way on social media,” said Meg Weinkauf, founder of the Faithful Leader. “How do you know we know what we should look at and what we shouldn’t, and what’s truthful and what’s not?”
Looking beyond the click-bait headlines, identifying where a story is coming from and checking to see if other news outlets are reporting similar information can help determine if a story is legitimate news.
“A lot of sites that might look like news sites really aren’t news sites at all,” said Dick Pryor, general manager of KGOU. “Legacy, traditional news organizations tend to get it right and tend to abide by a code of ethics.”
The panel suggested seeking out information from outlets that offer a differing viewpoint than what you agree with. By broadening your source material, you can better understand all sides of a story.
“If you agree with the media you are reading or watching all of the time, you are doing it wrong,” Anderson said. “You should question things, and you should disagree. It stretches us and makes us smarter.”