With the inauguration of President Trump drawing near, highlighting the role of facts in the countless upcoming policy debates is crucial.
The press has traditionally parsed truth from fiction in presenting their findings to the American people. It is often said that a free press strengthens the government’s civic accountability. A free press, however, means little if the American people do not trust it.
Trust is hard to build and easy to lose. A 2016 Gallup study made it clear that news organizations have been losing trust. The most visible manifestation of this trend is the dramatic rise in fake news: a threat to the nation’s public discourse regarding important political issues. With fraudulent stories like the Pope endorsing Trump going viral, the American public has become susceptible to misinformation.
Though media organizations have their share of blame, Trump’s actions contributed to the diminishment of public trust in America’s mainstream press. He has routinely berated and dismissed those institutions that break from his view of reality or have the gall to run a story he views as unfavorable towards him. For example, during his campaign, Trump revoked the press credentials of reputable media outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and The Huffington Post.
Central to the mission of Emory is finding and spreading truth; the seal of the University consists of a crossed torch and trumpet which represent knowledge and its proclamation, respectively. Faculty, staff, students and alumni of Emory ought to combat fake news by perpetuating truth.
Each member of our community ought to stay loyal to this mantle by subscribing to those newspapers — The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal — which have proven themselves trustworthy sources. These papers are not perfect, but each maintains a long history of ethically reporting news on the national level. Students are more than capable of accessing these news sources given complimentary or subsidized subscriptions Emory offers.
While members of our community should be free to read other news sources, we should remain vigilant and critical of publications that favor sensationalism over the truth. Moreover, our community’s efforts to eliminate fake news must be an active one. We must proactively elevate the truth and weed out everything else.
The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.