Telling the truth, objectively and subjectively
(I originally posted this at my blog, Allyn’s Alley, earlier today.)
“The media no longer tells the truth!”
“The media is biased!”
“The media leans left/leans right/whatever!”
Like many, I’ve been very disturbed by the difficulty in finding objective reporting. And in the last year or two, I’ve been especially disturbed by the rise in “fake news”. It’s gotten so that, when I’m on Facebook and an article comes up, I immediately wonder if it’s true or not.
We’ve gotten so that we can’t tell facts from opinions, and too many of us are broadcasting opinion as fact.
Well, here are a few things I’ve decided:
- I will tell the truth.
- I will have my facts straight, to the best of my ability.
- If I write opinion, it will be labeled as opinion.
- I will not deliberately set out to personally attack or offend people. While truth is offensive to some, there’s a difference between telling the truth and having people be offended by it and deliberately setting out to attack or offend a person.
- If I am wrong on a fact, I will correct it.
- If I have attacked someone unintentionally, I will apologize.
- My blog, Allyn’s Alley, will be a place where the writer can be trusted to tell it straight.
So, let’s get started. First, here are the definitions of “fact” and “opinion” that I will be using. Merriam-Webster online defines “fact” as “a thing done, the quality of being actual, something that has actual existence, an actual occurrence, a piece of information presented as having objective reality.”
Facts, as I understand this definition, are objective. Merriam-Webster defines “objective” as, among other things, “of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind . . . involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions or phenomena . . . expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.”
Merriam-Webster defines “opinion” as: “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter; belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge; a generally held view; a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert; the formal expression of the legal reasons and principles upon which a legal decision is based.”
Opinion, as I understand it, is subjective. Merriam-Webster defines “subjective” as, among other things, “characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind; relaiting to or being experience or knowledge as conditioned by personal mental characteristics or states; peculiar to a particular individual; modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background; arising from conditions within the brian or sense organs and not directly caused by external stimuli; arising out of or identified by means of one’s perception of one’s own states and processes; lacking in reality or substance.”
Okay, now that all that hard work is over :-) let me give an example of fact and opinion.
On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. That is a piece of information that has objective reality. Millions of people saw him be inaugurated. (I was one of them.) Therefore, this is a fact.
Donald Trump is a poor choice for president. Or, Donald Trump is a great choice for president. Both statements are a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter. Therefore, both statements are an opinion.
I describe myself as an imperfect follower of a perfect God. That God is a loving, compassionate God who forgives over and over. If I am to follow him, though, he does expect certain actions and attitudes from me. (His Holy Spirit will give me the power to follow him and produce those actions and attitudes.) One of those actions is to tell the truth.
My blog, Allyn’s Alley, is the product of a woman who writes about anything and everything from the point of view of a Christian conservative. One complaint about the media is that they have a “hidden agenda” or that they are “biased”. Here, when you read what I write, you will read the writings of a Christian who is a conservative morally, fiscally, and politically (admittedly, an imperfect conservative.) That’s my “agenda”, or “bias”, if you will.
But even with that admitted “bias” or “worldview”, I will always strive to tell the truth. I will report facts, and when I share opinions, they will be labeled as opinions.
This will be a place where I will be open with my views.
And ultimately, I want to be a writer who is trustworthy.