‘So, who do you trust?’

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Before Johnny Carson became popular on “The Tonight Show” he was popular on a daytime game show, “Who Do You Trust?”

The premise was this: A couple would be asked a question and without discussing the answer, they had to decide which partner they were going to trust with the answer.

It’s really not unlike the question each of us answers whenever we want to know the news.

Some people swear by Fox News, others are tempted to swear at the network. Some who consider themselves conservative use the “liberal” media as their news source. Still others rely on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media.

Most of us probably gather our information from a combination of sources including The Brazil Times.

It really does matter to whom we pay attention.

It is now known that Russians purchased large blocks of ads on Facebook; pretending to be loyal Americans, to persuade voters in the last election.

On a regular basis, Facebook lights up with “news” about local events. That’s not necessarily bad but we have to be careful that the information is documented.

As a young reporter I was often told, “If you don’t cite your source then it’s just your word in a story.”

Usually, Facebook posters are well-intentioned peole who hear a rumor from someone they trust and the rumor is spread.

Yes, The Brazil Times uses social and digital media to keep our followers informed. We have a Facebook page owned by the paper and each reporter has their own Facebook accounts. The paper also has a Twitter account and so does our editor and sports editor. We use Frank Phillips’ YouTube account. Let’s not forget the paper’s website, www.thebraziltimes.com. But it’s not as simple as saying a particular brand of social media is “good” or “bad” or “conservative” or “liberal.” It is a matter of reading or watching carefully. “Why did the reporter say that? What is their source?”

I used to work for two different managers at different times in my career. One owned a beauty shop. I could count on him coming to my desk and saying regularly, “My wife heard at the shop ...” The beauty shop rumors were never accurate. I had a another manager who would occasionally challenge our stories in the newspaper by saying, “I heard ...” and acted truly offended when our sources were cited because she trusted her friends more than the authorities (police, government officials, etc.) we cited in our stories.

So, who do you trust? If that answer leads to misinformation too many times, our republic could be in peril.