Postmodern journalism

Political film ‘Truth’ is proof of a society dominated by opinion rather than fact

News is the medium through which truth is presented to the masses, or at least it was. Now, media is dominated by opinions and supplemented by facts when convenient. This reality can be clearly seen in the new film “Truth.”

FRAUD — Dan Rather, played in the film by Robert Redford, lost his job after an erroneous report in 2004. Google images

FRAUD — Dan Rather, played in the film by Robert Redford, lost his job after an erroneous report in 2004. Google images

The movie follows the account of two CBS News correspondents who reported a story about George W. Bush before the 2004 presidential election. The anchors claimed Bush had received preferential treatment during his time in the Texas National Guard because of his father’s political influence and that Bush had gone AWOL to avoid the war in Vietnam.

The story was unmistakably disproven. There was no substantial evidence, no corroboration of facts, and no truth value. As a result, the correspondents were forced to leave CBS. Despite the report’s lack of validity, “Truth” hails the reporters as heroes and portrays them as victims of an elaborate conspiracy.

The only truth that this movie presents is that people will believe what they want to believe.

Modern culture is continuously engulfed in a flood of information. A constant barrage of news and opinion has dulled the general public’s sensitivity to truth. Nowadays, any millennial with a computer can be a source of news and information.

From Twitter to the plethora of blogs scattered across the Web, personal and political sentiment is affirmed as equally valid. Truth has never been viewed more subjectively than it is now. News and media have been allowed to devolve into just another product of modern culture’s postmodernity.

Truth is not dead, but it has been exiled.

The most unsettling aspect of “Truth” is the film’s enablement of journalistic dishonesty. The movie’s support of the CBS reporters sets a dangerous precedent. It empowers journalistic corruption by portraying inept reporting as courageous and bold.

While culture may be pushing truth down a path towards inanity, journalism must conform to an elevated standard of candor. The public may care little about what it consumes, but that does not justify the perpetuation of unsubstantiated claims and boldfaced lies.

Journalism is in the most precarious position it has ever experienced. It has lost outside accountability. The only checks and balances for integrity in reporting lie within the mainstream media itself. The public at large is no longer concerned enough, or competent enough for that matter, to challenge news outlets.

Many members of the journalism organization commit themselves to a higher standard of integrity and ethics in their reporting, but the community rests on a slippery slope. If truth and journalistic integrity are to be preserved, society needs to abandon its equivocation of opinion and fact.

Journalism is merely a product of culture. Any degradation or elevation of it is a direct result of cultural attitudes and beliefs. As a result, the preservation of journalistic integrity and ethics rests upon the shoulders of society.

This responsibility cannot be taken lightly. A culture that supports and maintains integrity in reporting can be the difference between a well read, educated society and one that floods its streets with disinformation and banal opinion.

EAGEN is an opinion writer.

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