Find the facts, then debate

Jacob Clanton, Print Editor-in-Chief

Today’s society has become one of sensationalism. As soon as an event or tragedy happens, people rush to get information out about it, often before any truths are known. Even in everyday life, people often jump to conclusions before knowing the truth. While having discussions about current events is a good thing, we should remember to understand the facts before making wild speculation.

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to the annual fall Kansas Scholastic Press Association conference. One of the sessions I went to was about this very topic. Jeff Browne, executive director of the scholastic journalism honor society, Quill and Scroll, taught a session about finding the truths. He pointed out that before discussing a topic, we should ask ourselves one simple question: “What do we know to be true?” The example he used was the NFL players’ anthem protest controversy. The media has ran with this story for a few weeks now, making it seem like this was a widespread thing. In reality, only about 250 of the roughly 1700 NFL players knelt during the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ While still a large number, this is much less than I would have thought given the media coverage, showing how important it is to find the truths.

Obviously, this has a big role in what we, as student journalists, do. According to Browne, the primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with information to be free and self-governed. The key to doing this job is searching for truths and reporting them. Even media outlets that are perceived as biased base at least some of their information on facts. Recently, in my English Composition class, we read an article of the week about the NFL players’ protests. This article was really two separate articles, one by Fox News and one by CNN. Though one might expect them to be radically different, they were, in essence, the same. To me, this was surprising, given the stereotypes about the two outlets. However, it just goes to show how important searching for the truth is in all types of journalism, even scholastic journalism.

Searching for truth is just a good rule for life too. Often times, we get so caught up in the liberal vs. conservative mindset, not wanting to be wrong, that we just start using information that backs up only our case. Our side is not always 100 percent correct though. Instead, we might be believing half-truths. This is why it’s important to look for truths in all sides of an issue. If all I watched was Fox News, I would have a skewed view of news and American politics. The same would happen with CNN. A better strategy is to devour information from both. This will give a more well-rounded view of the world, making us better people.

Looking for truths is probably the most important thing we can do as people. Not only will it make us smarter, but it will help us understand the world better. And let’s be honest, can you really debate a topic without knowing what all the truths are?