Letters to the Editor

Letter: Don't fall for yellow journalism

Published:

To the Editor:

Yellow journalism: Noun: “journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.”

Occasionally used in the last century to sell newspapers, it was a precursor to the fake news we encounter today. Maybe some knew it as propaganda.

There is a difference in misinterpretation and blatant manipulation of facts hoping to gain political influence. From an article in Popular Science, “As partisans, pundits and even governments weaponize information to exploit our regional, gender and ethnic differences,” we find ourselves challenged to filter and fact-check the deluge of information that floods the airways and social media. 

According to Pew research, 60 percent of Americans rely on the former for their information. In the case of the internet, we should always have been skeptical of opinions, and even firsthand eyewitness accounts because they may be biased due to cultural, religious or racial prejudices. 

False facts are made believable by the presenter and the term “Truth Goggles” attempts to make credible information more acceptable to biased readers. 

Artificial intelligence could use algorithms to check facts and reach beyond the scope of individual involvement, but there currently exists no algorithmic model for truth.

Embellishment is commonplace in the news arena and individuals, too, have a tendency toward exaggeration. I catch myself making things sound worse or better than they are; I guess it’s an effort to promote my information edge.

Using a service like “Snopes” and other self-proclaimed fact-checkers only exposes us to their biases and adds to confusion because we feel now we really know. I guess the old saying that “the truth hurts” is more credible today than ever, and for our own self-esteem, we must avoid the pitfalls of prevarication.

Claude Nickell

Crystal Lake