More and more lately, it seems, events are transpiring which convince me that truly I must be a fish out of water.
Going along with those events is the vocabulary that goes along with them ... or it, if there’s just one event.
In analyzing this phenomenon, I rely on two things: (1) what I thought I had learned and knew and understood about the meaning, and how to use certain words or phrases; and (2) some of the lessons my professors in journalism school taught us years ago when I was making a career of being a college student during the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
In a long ago period of time, my elementary and high school teachers stressed certain basic rules and procedures for speaking and writing. One was to make sure you spelled words korrectly. Another was to make sure you used correct subject and predicate or noun and verb agreement so you didn’t say things like “He were a good ballplayer” or “I wish I had went earlier.”
And we were told never use no double negatives. And about sentence fragments.
All of this fountain of knowledge came about long before I was exposed to those college journalism professors. Sometimes I was exposed to them and their classes because occasionally I would skip enough class sessions to make it necessary to have another go at the course load. That, of course, was because of my decision not to let school interfere with my education, but that’s another story for another time.
Anyway, among those college journalism lessons were such things as (1) we’re a reporter, not part of the story; (2) if you want to express your opinion then go to the editorial or feature page and do not do it in your “hard news” copy; and, (3) always, always, always (did I say “always?”) tell the truth.
Since those days, I have on occasion done some reading and further studying about “truth” and come to realize it can mean different things to different people, what makes “news” can also mean different things.
On occasion, folks have asked me why crime and violence is so much in the news. I learned that to many people “news” is when something that isn’t supposed to happen does, in fact, happen.
Consider, for instance, airplanes. What is an airplane supposed to do? Take off somewhere and land somewhere else and do so safely. Happens a gazillion times a day; they’re supposed to and when something does what it was made to do or is supposed to do, nobody notices. But let one of them break apart at 30,000 feet, something they’re not supposed to do and — “bingo” — you have news.
I can kind of understand that logic, but nowhere was I exposed to what seems to be the norm today, namely “fake news” or “misinformation.” It’s everywhere, seemingly, and I’m not sure I know what it means — other than to consider if your opponent is saying it then it’s “fake” — but apparently it’s a real thing. This brings up the question can something that’s “fake” be real?
Seemingly, it is an issue that causes considerable hand-wringing and head-scratching on numerous fronts, including on one of the major television networks, which not so long ago ran a self-promotional spot promising, so help me, more “real news.”
Given that I am, apparently, a man out of touch with today’s world, if, based on what I thought words meant, if something is “fake” then does that mean it’s a “lie?”
And if it is, then that’s not a nice thing.
At least, that’s what my mama told me. And I know for real, my mama wouldn’t never tell me no lie.
Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.
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