News: Keeping Faith in the Truth

A common, seemingly objective but ultimately nihilistic refrain, used to question, dismiss or denigrate news coverage, is that we cannot really know what is true.




Journalism - whether delivered through TV, mailboxes, websites or social media – remains the primary source of information for most Americans. Thousands of outstanding journalists work every day to generate reliable accurate and truth-based news. 

Driven by partisans and propagandists, the rise of ideological and opinion-driven news, alternate facts and narratives, have undermined trust in the mainstream media and the social contract implied in its role as the Fourth Estate.     

This is deeply problematic. When the public lose faith in high-quality journalism, the idea of the truth itself becomes fungible and fuzzy – which ultimately is the point for those attacking the media as an institution. People can believe what they like and dismiss what they don’t.         

At a Buddhist monastery in Nepal, I once asked the abbot about faith. “In Christianity we are taught to have faith that there is heaven, although we cannot know that it exists until we die… what role does faith play in Buddhism?” His response was that it was born from the practice of Buddhist teachings. In short, in Buddhism, faith is based on experience.

This is relevant to the discussion of truth. The experience of high-quality journalism over time, no matter how flawed, is the basis for keeping the faith that what is reported is true. 

When it comes to the news, media organizations that put into practice their commitment to the truth and facts, and individual journalists, who choose right against might, earn our trust. 

Although it may feel unsatisfactory or even impossible at this time, rebuilding faith in journalism will be based on the continued experience of fact-based coverage, combined with a strong moral and ethical compass. 

We all need anchors for belief. The professional practice of journalism continues to play a critical role in guiding us through the storms of information and disinformation to help determine fact from fiction, and the good from the bad.   


About the Author: Simon Erskine Locke is a writer, VP of the Foreign Press Association, and CEO of communications agency and professional search and services platform, CommunicationsMatch™. He is a regular contributor to and other trade media. 

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