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The way we receive our news and information has drastically changed in the last decade, or so. The top sources for receiving the latest news are: television, the internet, a cocktail party (prior to COVID), locker rooms in fitness centres, your family and friends and print media (not in any specific order).

Let’s look at how these have changed in the last few years. News, especially on television, used to consist of reporters broadcasting facts. From there, your intelligence could make decisions and form opinions. Since the introduction of CNN, news media has become all about viewership and the attraction of demographics. The longer media can keep you involved in a story, the more sponsorship they are able to create. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however; rating increases are forcing information accuracy to take a back seat. Consequently, opinion-based reporting is suppressing fact-based information. This is especially true in Internet groups, which now account for the largest percentage of people receiving news.

In large media organizations, headlines, which have always been the attraction to an article or news story, are now written by dedicated headline writers. They tend to relay shock or a fear factor, making it almost impossible for you not to want to read the article. Because I have always written my own headlines, I assumed that was the norm but; I was surprised to learn it is not.

I’m quickly learning the purpose of the media is not to educate you, but to entertain you. It seems the dirtier the laundry hung out, the more people swarm to it. I miss the old days when we would watch Walter Cronkite present the news factually, not slanting it in any direction. Now, it seems every publication, internet group and television station, leans to the left or to the right.

One of the greatest sources of misinformation is internet groups on social media (gee, what a surprise). These groups give everyone, no matter how informed they are, an opportunity to express an opinion and phrase it anyway they wish. If I put a headline that reads ‘Airplane makes safe crossing over Atlantic’, I would probably have a small handful of followers; however, if that headline read ‘Airplane crashes due to negligence’, my ‘Like’ button would skyrocket.

In summary, I guess I would just simply ask you to obtain various opinions before forming your own, and do not pass misinformation on until it has been verified.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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