In December 2018, I was privileged to meet someone who travelled the world more and has seen it much more than I have.
This post is partly inspired by him as I seek to promote News Literacy. This post takes two tracks. The first discusses – the Lügenpresse (German: lying press). The second explains how one achieves greater objectivity (impartiality).
In Dec 2018, news broke that Claas Relotius, the German Reporter Award 2018 recipient, admitted to fabricating news. He resigned thereafter. From the same Deutsche Welle (or DW, international German broadcaster) article, we see that Relotius took the 2014 CNN Journalist of the Year award for writing on US prisons. This sparked attacks on news media through cries of “lügenpresse”.
The phrase “lügenpresse” means “lying press” in German. While its roots have been said to go back to the 19th century, it is mostly known for its use by the Nazi party to delegitimize the media and invalidate its reporting.
Eric Cortellessa. (24 Oct 2016). Trump backers berate journalists with Nazi-linked term at rally. https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-backers-berate-journalists-with-nazi-linked-term-at-rally/. The Times of Israel. 4 Washington Street, Jerusalem 9418704, Israel.
And this led Sandra Petersmann of DW pleading:
I implore readers not to punish our profession based on the the misconduct of individual journalists. Relotius is a dangerous outlier. There have been other fraudsters before him who played into the hands of those seeking to push the narrative of the “Lügenpresse” (lying press), but in fact, the “Lügenpresse” does not exist. Indeed, the majority of us work hard to give an honest voice to children like Alin and Ahmed from Aleppo.
Sandra Petersmann. (20 Dec 2018). Opinion: Truth is the first casualty of Claas Relotius. https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-truth-is-the-first-casualty-of-claas-relotius/a-46823086. Deutsche Welle. Bonn/Berlin, Germany. [A 13 Jun 2018 article by the Afghanistan Times described her as “a DW South Asia expert” – http://www.afghanistantimes.af/hamid-karzai-former-afghan-president-hopeful-permanent-peace-taliban/]
If you review the above section, you would notice 3 different sources from 3 distinct regions (Europe, Asia, Middle East). I excluded other sources from Wikipedia, RT (Russian broadcaster), NBC News (US) which I consulted but did not include. I believe cross referencing is vital for judging news in this information overloaded era. (This seems limited to the subjects of History, Social Studies and General Paper or other similar humanities / social science subjects at pre-university level. One tends to find more critical thinking practice at university level).
When acting on news (e.g. buying shares or voting or selecting medical treatment or forwarding it), it is best to read or listen to different media outlets from different countries. It would be ideal to draw from various languages: French, Chinese, English to German and Bahasa Melayu/Indonesia etc. Countries possess contrasting censorship levels or research focus areas while foreign languages structurally allow for differing viewpoints (by virtue of culture and linguistic rules). Aim for at least 3 sources. In addition, speak to someone whom you consider wise and cares for your well being (or loves the truth) – you must accept though that the person may strongly disagree with you.
Another way to verify news authenticity is to use a few sites like AFP Factcheck – https://factcheck.afp.com/. AFP (Agence France Presse), an international news platform, occupies offices in Uruguay, France, Cyprus, US, and Hong Kong. You may also consider Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/ – it celebrated 250 years in 2018.
If you wish to dig deeper, do background checks on your news sources. You would find 3 samples below.
Our editorial board is a small group of exceptional individuals who offered support for The Times of Israel during its planning stages, and from whom we will seek input as we progress.
It comprises Sharon Ashley (former editor of The Jerusalem Report and former director of Israel Engagement at Hillel), Irwin Cotler (human rights activist and former Canadian justice minister), Efraim Halevy (former director of the Mossad, ambassador and national security adviser), Saul Singer (journalist and author of “Start-Up Nation”), and Ehud Yaari (Arab affairs commentator for Channel 2 news, journalist and author).
Yehuda Avner (former ambassador and adviser to a succession of Israeli prime ministers) was a treasured member of our editorial board until his death in March 2015.
About the Times of Israel and its staff. (accessed 4 Feb 2019). https://www.timesofisrael.com/about/. The Times of Israel.
Asahi was founded in Ōsaka in 1879… It is particularly noted for its political coverage and its foreign news. The paper is known for its liberal and progressive views… Like the other two major Japanese newspapers, Yomiuri and Mainichi, Asahi publishes a much greater proportion of foreign news than is usual in the West. In the early 21st century its daily circulation was one of the largest in the world, with more than six million subscribers. The readership of Asahi is drawn mainly from the upper and middle classes.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (revised 16 May 2018). Asahi shimbun. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Asahi-shimbun.
The Jakarta Globe has provided readers with authoritative reporting on Indonesia since the launch of the newspaper in November 2008… the Globe shifted its focus to updating readers through its website after discontinuing the print edition at the end of 2015…
We offer in-depth news coverage, informative business stories and colorful features about Indonesia and the greater region. Our website, jakartaglobe.id, offers a daily e-mail newsletter, breaking news around the clock and a searchable archive of stories. You can find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thejakartaglobe), or follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/thejakartaglobe) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/jakartaglobe).
About us. (accessed 4 Feb 2019). https://jakartaglobe.id/about-us. PT Jakarta Globe Media. BeritaSatu Plaza, 11th Floor, Suite 1102, Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto Kav. 35-36, Jakarta 12650, Indonesia.