Facebook, Google, and Twitter face scrutiny over Russian infiltration of social media to influence the 2016 U.S. elections.
Do we actually depend on Facebook, Google, and Twitter for news and analysis? If so, we deserve the less than stellar candidates recently elected to public office.
I connect with friends on Facebook, use search engines to aid research, and tweet my blogs over Twitter. For news and analysis, I read reputable newspapers and magazines. Most can be read online as well as in print.
What does reputable mean? Judgement by peers is one measure, like winning a Pulitzer Prize. Editors, publishers, writers, and educators gather each year at Columbia University to judge entries for the prizes.
According to the Pulitzer website, entries “may be made by any individual based on material coming from a United States newspaper, magazine or news site that publishes regularly during the calendar year and adheres to the highest journalistic principles.”
Prizes are awarded in many categories. Recent awards were given for investigations of abuse of power, analysis of the opioid tragedy, exploration of hidden tax havens, and a host of others.
In other words, the reporters investigated. They didn’t depend on unsubstantiated rumors. Editors checked facts.
The founders of the republic were under no illusion that simply holding elections would, by itself, safeguard the nation. For it to survive and flourish, the citizens had to be informed.
Information will not come in a few digital bytes. Only dedicated digging can keep tabs on politicians, business interests, cultural movements, and other complexities of our postmodern world.