Limmud III - Alternative Facts

Hannah Geeser, Mountain Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

Hannah Geeser, Mountain Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

By Harrison Thorn, Rocky Mountain Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

To believe or not to believe

In a country where the media is being questioned at every turn by not only citizens, but also the President himself, it is more important than ever to understand what news we can trust, what we cannot, and how to know if we are looking at facts or "alternative facts." Luckily for IC participants, there was a Limmud session that served specifically for this purpose. The program was led by Sydney Gart (RMR) and featured a panel of three journalists: Tomer Avital, an Israeli reporter who specialized in writing about political corruption, Julia Reinstein of BuzzFeed News, and Harry Enten from FiveThirtyEight. The program was a question and answer session where the audience asked questions about the guests' journeys to their careers as well as how to know what to trust. Some of the main insights came from Reinstein, who suggested that if a site sounds partisan, it probably is. She also implored that we try to find facts from multiple sources when trying to confirm or deny something. Another sentiment which seems to have been largely forgotten recently came from Enten. He said that the purpose of journalism is to portray the facts to the public and let the chips fall where they may. 

Alternative facts and fake news seem to be spurred largely by money and corruption. However, it can also come from people not necessarily motivated by money, but less educated people with opinions to share, or people like me - I'm the only source of news on this panel discussion, so as the reader, you have very little choice over whether or not to believe what I'm writing.  In other (fake) news, Selena is too good for Justin, so give up on that now. Overall, the panel discussion was a meaningful program where participants were able to dissect the current state of the media in America and Israel, as well as to learn how to combat the problem.