Determining fake news from facts can often be difficult. Photo: iStock
Differentiating fake news from facts can often be difficult. Photo: iStock

What’s new about news that people anticipate? Polarized societies feature politicized media hammering their agenda into people’s heads like they are banging on war drums.

“News outlets are supposed to report the facts.” Fine. However, if news reports are not about “the new” but about “the facts,” why not call “news stations” “fact-stations”? Maybe because facts are old and therefore not sexy?

Media stations “sexify” facts to avoid being seen as arbiters of “old news.” If it’s about new facts on the news, remember: People anticipate the news. Why include facts on the news then? Is it to educate the public with selected content?

The term “content” is neutral, not sexy, unsuitable for political or media campaigns. Media outlets abandon objectivity when sensationalizing content to entertain, calling convenient content “facts” and “truth” versus “lies” and “fake” (non-opportune content).

It’s a media-politics nexus, when media and politics collude: Politicians campaign on social media plus established “old media.” Politicized media propagating “facts” sacrifice objectivity on the altar of politics (knowledge sociology describes “sluice gates”: information, selection, utilization – watergates of ideology compromising perspective) when tendentiously “the facts” selected tackle “the usual suspects,” the political enemy?

Declared “truth,” “fact,” and “objective content” outsell. Old media expect the people to buy “the facts” propagated as “reality,” but “the facts” are a selection of facts ideally. The world is full of facts like science, but perspective, motive, intention are deciding which of the facts are relevant.

“Fact checkers review the facts!” Not so fast, please: Again, what are considered “facts” in the first place depends on selectors, the fact checkers’ perspective picking “the facts” from all the facts, let alone those accepting the facts mindlessly, as already approved. Politicized media select convenient facts and comment issues that are ideologically opportune. Scientific findings of knowledge sociology and criticism of ideology potentially disclosing politicized media hardly become news. Why convincing, standardizing people’s perspectives to rally behind pushed facts? For political reasons?

“Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it.” (Maimonides, Sephardic Jewish philosopher)

Broadcasting “the truth” doesn’t make it more true, only multiplied. Politicized old media recruit via propagation (ideologically selected convenient content), red-flagging “fake news” etc to retain the people as customers. Unsurprisingly, the facts on the news spare established media’s “fact-selectors.” But: “There’s a major media station’s consensus on the facts!” Right, but media proponents agreeing on “the facts” don’t necessarily indicate objectivity, rather a bubble they are marooned by.

After millennia of human civilization, here we are: Old-media proponents fighting for interpretational sovereignty call one another “liars,” “fake news” challenged by the new kid on the block: Social media. How anti-democratic of old media, as defaming social media is akin to a crusade against the people.

Old media were stabilizers of societal order as long uncontestedly educating the public at will. Now old media as interpreters-in-chief of politicians communicating directly to the people are dethroned by social media, a game changer in the media world.

Social media appear as mouthpieces of the people, while old media act as mouthpieces of the establishment. Social media give a voice to all the people, unlike politicized old media selecting political interest groups while commenting dissidents negatively ad nauseam.

Do old media really want to educate people thinking for themselves or to create human copies, “useful idiots” backing the pushed “facts”?

“The public has the right to know the truth.” Right, but educated people are hard to govern, knowing the truth beyond the noise of politicized media.

Media proponents antagonizing certain politicians they feel extremely annoyed by don’t show objectivity but influence. Media proponents fighting extremism with extremism undermine professional journalism.

We, the public, deserve better than journalist market criers pushing the convenient truth (preferred facts), inviting conformist “experts” (experts in conformism) to panels reminding of kangaroo courts, condemning political dissidents and rallying the people behind opportune ideology. The public has the right not to be manipulated but to be taken seriously, to know the different angles neutrally displayed.

How objective are media proponents who advocate for persecuted political dissidents afar while combating domestic dissidents’ perspectives?

Objectivity demands: Inviting different opinions equally represented, not highlighting one while discriminating against dissidents. Professional journalism distinguishes between “describing” and “judging.” Media proponents lost professionalism by taking the easy way out, calling dissidents they dislike “liars,” “fake,” “conspiracy theorists” etc.

In an overheating media world, please note: Not every theory you dislike is a conspiracy theory. Not every person who says something you dislike is a liar.

Remember George Orwell’s remark, The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” We’re in the thick of it. Politicized media stoke societal hatred making money by age-old friend-foe schemes combating political foes. Good vs Evil creates winners and losers. Media proponents appearing as “the good guys,” “custodians of truth” provoke resistance.

In times of democratization, billions using social media build public pressure against an exclusive old media regime on a crusade to standardize perspectives.

Bygone are the times when people followed leaders blindly. Efforts of persuasion skyrocketed. People strive for self-determination. Yet politicians and politicized media with foam at the mouth consider themselves spearheading a pluralized public, democratized, empowered by social media, which are combated by old media and politicians claiming to represent emancipated people, who want to represent themselves.

The more “20th century” old media appear politicized, one-sided, top-down and detached from the people, the more social media flourish bottom-up. Social media apps on old media cannot sugarcoat old media’s archaic structures. The more CNN, Fox etc politicize, the more society falls apart.

Today a paradigm shift is unfolding: Old media seem uber-politicized, driven by the left and the right fighting for message control, “recruiting-mobilizing-rallying” as ever. But this fight has entered the social-media arena: People speak up, voice their opinions. When the media monitor politics and social media, then who monitors old media? Social media – we, the people.

Dr. Dr. phil. Immanuel Fruhmann is an Austrian philosopher and educationist specialized in philosophy of science and language, cultural and social philosophy, as well as adult education, with years of experience in analysis of geopolitics and giving philosophical and educational insights to the public. He is psychotherapist in training and works as coach and consultant as well as writer.
Fruhmann is a Knight of the Order of St George, a European Order of the Imperial House of Habsburg-Lorraine, as well as vice president of the Austrian Education Alliance, associated member of the Kinderbüro (political lobby for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child), and the Austrian Economic League.

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