Back in my student journalism days, before Facebook or Buzzfeed, the truth was easy to find.
"Seek the truth," the Professor would say, "in the form of facts. Corroborate the facts impartially through credible sources. Seek not to harm but to inform. And hold yourself accountable to the accuracy of your reporting."
Of course in reality what we produced might be something similar to the truth, or it might not. We had to select facts that represented what we thought was the truth, from sources willing to provide them, and in ways that would keep readers reading, or viewers viewing.
Sometimes we got it right. Sometimes we didn't. But it felt like the truth, with balanced quotes, solid-sounding facts and "both" sides of any arguments examined.
In a great long read (a flight, not a commute), Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner looks at the truth as it is today, disrupted if not wholly transformed by technology, social media and a rapidly changing society. Thanks Paul Middleton (good guy, motorcycle racer and London colleague) for pointing it out.
My own opinion won't offer much to a great piece of writing, but I will say I think the truth has always been elusive...
What do you think?
We are privileged to live in an era when we can use many new technologies – and the help of our audience – to do that. But we must also grapple with the issues underpinning digital culture, and realise that the shift from print to digital media was never just about technology. We must also address the new power dynamics that these changes have created. Technology and media do not exist in isolation – they help shape society, just as they are shaped by it in turn. That means engaging with people as civic actors, citizens, equals. It is about holding power to account, fighting for a public space, and taking responsibility for creating the kind of world we want to live in.