“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read it, you’re misinformed,” says Denzel Washington at a screening of his new film, Fences.
Washington was recently the target of a fake news story that suggested he switched his political affiliation from support of Hillary Clinton to that of Donald Trump. Washington flat out denied the suggestion and pointed us at the issue of receiving “too much information.”
“What is the long term effect of too much information?” he asks. Then, after a pause and a think about it, he answers his own question. “One of the effects is the need to be first,” he says, “not even to be true, anymore.”
He makes a striking and valid point. In a world where notoriety means ad revenue, authors and artists have played for the shock value, increasingly, and have put the genuinity of the media behind them.
He followed up his insightful remark by turning his attention on the reporter that asked him the question. “So what is the responsibility you all have? To tell the truth, not to just be first, but to tell the truth. We live in a society now where it’s just first. Who cares? Get it out there. We don’t care who it hurts, we don’t care who we destroy, we don’t care if it’s true. Just say it, sell it.”
Of course, he wasn’t blaming the reporter, specifically, but bringing up the point that we all (those of us in the media, even bloggers) have the responsibility to put forward the truth, regardless of the clicks it’s going to generate.
There will always be a place for satire, but satire and news are not the same thing. “Satirical news” is an oxymoron, like an “empty glass of water.” If it’s a glass of water, it’s not empty. If it’s empty, it’s just a glass. As such, to begin down the path of satire breaks away from the path of legitimate news and veers off toward entertainment. There is nothing wrong with it, but a distinction must be made, boldly, before the person is subjected to it.