Back when I was in school, teachers were adamant that students consult credible sources when doing research. Any expert cited had to be reliable, with time-tested, proven credentials. Then, as now, primary sources (first-hand evidence) and secondary sources (scholarly books and articles) are paramount in writing and education. Any work sans credible sources is not fact; it’s creative writing. An accurate thesis examining the Korean War, for example, would include commentary from those directly involved in the conflict and information provided by academics schooled in the subject. While social commentary from the fictional Korean War vet, Hawkeye Pierce, would be far more amusing than dry facts, it would not be viable, nor would the opinion of, say, my dad, a WWII veteran who was not involved in the Korean conflict. Hawkeye Pierce is entertainment; my dad’s viewpoint is subjective. Neither is fact. Neither is news.
Truth is not subjective, nor is it entertainment.
In this world of around-the-clock news, youtube celebrities and bloggers, primary and secondary sources are tossed aside. Everyone is a critic. Everyone is an expert. Some bloggers and vloggers have the education and credentials to support their opinions of world events; others are merely seeking the limelight, presenting their unsubstantiated positions to the world in colorful broadcasts rooted in theater rather than fact.
We must be careful who we listen to.
Take the popular youtube duo, Diamond and Silk (Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, respectively), who have parlayed their evangelical background, colorful personalities, and support of Donald Trump into full-time careers. Diamond and Silk enjoy a wide following; however, they are entertainers, not reporters. What they put out into the world is not news; it’s their interpretation of current events. Similarly, popular vlogger Casey Neistat’s previous claim that Donald Trump is a “megalomaniac who is driven by nothing but ego” is not fact. Niestat may have over ten million subscribers, but he lacks the credentials in the psychosciences to substantiate his assessment of the President’s personality.
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Entertainment is not news.
By the same token, television’s talking heads are not journalists. Sean Hannity, for example, with a background in contracting and radio hosting, is not a reporter. Hannity is a political commentator, and his personal association with Donald Trump makes him biased. Hannity and his contemporaries present opinion, not fact. The same can be said for late night television host, Stephen Colbert. Despite his suit and desk, Colbert is a comic, not a journalist. Decidedly anti-Trump, Colbert offers comic relief. He, too, is biased. Neither Hannity’s show nor Colbert’s is journalism. Fancy trappings, witty personality, a platform and an audience do not make any individual an expert on current events, and bias on either side of the political fence clouds truth.
Bottom line: youtube celebrities like Diamond and Silk, talking heads like Sean Hannity, and comics like Stephen Colbert are entertainers. They are not journalists. When we watch them, we are not watching a news broadcast. We are viewing subjective programming sans the integrity of thorough, unbiased journalism.
It bears repeating: entertainment is not news. Truth is not subjective. We must be careful who we listen to.